By Ashna Patil
The Election Commission has announced the dates for the Karnataka elections. It starts on the 17th of April, the date when the poll notifications will be issued. 24th April is the last day for filing of nomination, and 27th of the same month is the last date of withdrawal for the candidates. The polling of votes will happen on the 12th of May, with the vote count on the 15th.
The three parties for the election
The election essentially boils down to a three-way contest between the former chief minister and state president H.D. Kumaraswamy of Janata Dal, BJP with B.S.Yeddyurappa, and K. Siddaramaiah-led Congress. BJP is relying on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the LIBRA votes that consist of Lingayat plus Brahmins, while Congress is hoping that Siddaramaiah and his leadership will be enough for it to sway AHINDA- which is a consolidation of minority, backward class, and Dalit votes. JDS is praying for a repeat of 2004 and is likely to play the kingmaker in the election depending upon how much of a dent it makes on the vote bank of either party.
Why is it important for Congress to win?
For Siddaramaiah, this election is vital and comes on the heels of Congress having lost several major elections to BJP over the past year. Since coming to power at the Centre in 2014, the BJP has wrested power from the grand old party in Assam, Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Manipur. It is now in power in only Karnataka. Siddaramaiah has even changed to Chamundeshwari in Mysore district which is where he traditionally contested elections from, rather than his constituency from Varuna. “This is my last election and I want to fight it, for sentimental reasons, from my old constituency, which elected me five times,” he said. Siddaramaiah’s son, Yathindra, a political novice, is likely to be the Congress candidate from Varuna, with Yeddyurappa’s second son, Vijendra, against him.
What are the parties focusing on?
Several issues and their responses are likely to affect the voters. Water politics is prominent with the Cauvery issue still fresh and now Mahadayi taking the spotlight. BJP chief Amit Shah told leaders of Karnataka BJP to take up the Mahadayi issue and “launch a multi-pronged campaign to channelize the anger of the people“. Siddaramaiah, on the other hand, is choosing to benefit from a farmers’ protest against BJP for claiming a breakthrough in the Mahadayi issue. Development is another talking point where Siddaramaiah leads, as his insistence on completion of government projects has paid off.
Three different surveys, including one by C-Fore that has not been proven wrong yet, indicate Congress runs at the front despite continuous rallies by Amit Shah and Modi. Despite Karnataka’s history of throwing out incumbent parties, Congress may end up retaining power in the state.
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