BANGALORE: Both Congress and BJP are trying to up their game as the date of assembly election in Karnataka is nearing. Determined to gain as much traction as possible before ending their respective campaigns, national heads of both parties, Rahul Gandhi (Congress) and Amit Shah (BJP), have made several trips to the state, trying to establish connect with the masses, and particularly meeting religious luminaries in an attempt to please different groups.
Commenting on Rahul Gandhi’s frequent trips to the state, a BJP leader said that he is campaigning for BJP, while the Congress recently passed the same statement for Amit Shah, when he inadvertently called his party’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yedyurappa’s regime in Karnataka the most corrupt one. Amit Shah, on his part, has been convening meetings with state and national leaders of the BJP, strategizing for the election and assessing the mindset of the electorate.
There are only 25 more days left to campaign for the assembly election, and the incumbent CM Siddaramaiah of Congress has been leading the campaign for his party, while Rahul Gandhi’s frequent trips and rallies have added muscle to former’s canvassing. However, BJP’s Yedyurappa has not been able to make his mark like Siddaramaiah, and BJP might have to rely largely on Modi’s charisma to win in Kanataka.
It is also quite evident that voters in the state are not quite impressed with BJP’s Hindutva agenda, barring a few pockets in coastal Karnataka. Even local party leaders think that the central leadership is far removed from the ground reality of the state. The differences between Shah and Yedyurappa are also apparent, with Shah not quite keen to give tickets according to Yedyurappa’s recommendations.
However, it must be noted that caste and religion have recently gained prominence in the political equations in the state. While Siddaramaiah has tried to gain some points by recommending to the Central govt. a separate religion tag for Lingayats in Karnataka, the BJP, trapped by this smart move, is responding by saying that Siddaramaiah’s recommendation is a move to divide the Hindu community. The Lingayat vote may get split or swing towards Congress now, and leaders of both parties want to please this politically and socially strong and well connected section of the society in Karnataka.
The J D (S) is also ramping up its campaign, supported by B S P and AIMIM. Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMIM said that his party will extend support to the J D (S) and will campaign for the same. He said that both the Congress and BJP have let the people of the state down and it is time to bring change by voting for the J D (S). And this seems right to some extent, since both BJP and Congress are not talking about development of Karnataka anymore. Issues like Cauvery and Mahadayi river water sharing, farmers suicides, infrastructural growth, women’s safety etc have taken a back seat, and separate religion for Lingayats, separate flag for Karnataka etc have become more important.