Cong’s big challenge will be in 2014 in Karnataka

The Congress cannot rest on its oars in Karnataka even if it gets, as predicted by several exit polls, a clear majority in the state assembly. Its real test will be in the Lok Sabha polls when the electorate will vote for the next government at the Centre.

The discourse in the just concluded polls was state-centric. The BJP was on the defensive. Its performance over the past five years saw rampant graft and lack of governance. Internal feuds took a heavy toll of the saffron party’s image in terms of political stability and transparency.

If it does come about, the BJP’s defeat in Karnataka will be its third consecutive loss in assembly polls after Uttarakhand and Himachal. It will undercut badly the party’s bid to shine in contrast with Congress-ruled States by citing the achievements of its regimes in Gujarat and MP.

Modi in fact was drafted to campaign in Karnataka to shore up the BJP’s floundering fortunes by highlighting the UPA’s myriad scams. But I suspect that rather than consolidating the Hindu vote split on caste lines, he ended up causing the minorities to gravitate towards the Congress at the expense of Deve Gowda’s JD (S). The anti-incumbency against the BJP was too strong for him to counter. The exact anatomy of the vote will be evident only when the final results are out— given the Indian pollsters’ proclivity to err. Of interest, however, will be the performance of Yeddyurappa’s fledgling party and whether the BJP comes second or third in the polls after the JD (S), what with HD Kumaraswamy emerging as a popular choice for the CM’s slot in different surveys.

Also, on whom will the Congress rely for extra numbers in the event of falling short of a clean majority— Yeddy or the Gowda clan? The chances of it setting up a joint venture with Yeddy are greater. That will fetch the party a social alliance comprising the Lingayats for putting up a formidable fight in the 2014 elections.

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