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Many futures hinge on today’s Karnataka election verdict | India News

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NEW DELHI: The suspense over the high-stakes Karnataka election, seen as a clash with strong national overtones besides being a duel of regional leaders, will end today, revealing if CM Siddaramaiah can score a famous victory, if the BJP challenge led by PM Narendra Modi prevails or a hung House offers opportunities for H D Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (S).

Though the Karnataka election will be largely settled over local issues, both BJP and Congress have brought in larger dimensions. The CM has said an important element of the contest would be of “secularism versus communalism” while BJP had pitched the Modi government’s record in office and also brought up issues relating to “selective secularism” of Congress.

With the BJP campaign speaking of Congress’s losing streak, barring Punjab, since the Modi government assumed office in May 2014, the election has high significance for Congress as Karnataka is the only other major state where it is in office. The battle between the two sides was fought just as fiercely on social media as on the ground.


The results will be seen as a scene setter for the polls in BJP ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh later this year and the Lok Sabha polls in 2019. A win will boost Congress’s morale after having run BJP close in Gujarat. It will also embellish Rahul Gandhi’s claim to be the leader of an opposition alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Though a win will see the central leadership being hailed, Siddaramaiah will again underline the utility of strong regional leaders as he has banked on a shrewd mix of caste and minority politics with populist welfare schemes.

For BJP, a win will be seen as a major validation of the Modi model given the PM’s strenuous campaign and the more than 40 days that party chief Amit Shah has spent in Karnataka. It will be a comeback for B S Yeddyurappa, BJP’s mascot in the state and a former CM whose term was clouded by graft charges.

No government in Bengaluru has returned to office since 1985, putting Congress on the wrong side of history. The CM is understood to be confident but Congress could also be prepared to do business with Gowda and his son H D Kumaraswamy. The JD (S) is a likely partner for both, with speculation that it might seek a tenure arrangement if the numbers for BJP and Congress are fairly short. As of now, BJP may be unwilling to give JD(S) a shot at the CM’s chair while Congress, if the need arises, may seek to retain the top job. All three players exuded confidence on the eve of results.

Beset with competing ambitions of regional parties for leadership of the secular’ alliance, Congress and potential allies are engaged in a battle of wits. To Congress’s chagrin, there is a strong push from TMC for a ‘federal front’ in which the largest opposition party has been invited to be “an equal among equals”.

A Congress defeat could reduce its bargaining power in the ‘secular’ camp while a victory could force others to fall in line, and in turn result in a better coordinated operation against BJP. A day earlier, Siddaramaiah had floated the idea of a Dalit CM, seen as his willingness to vacate the top post if Congress was to seek support from JD(S) to form government. Siddaramaiah and Gowda have been implacable foes since the former walked out of JD(S) and joined Congress.

While Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala welcomed the CM’s comment as an expression of selflessness, a senior party leader said Siddaramaiah was aware that the priority was to form a party government and individual interests came later.

Congress despatched its senior managers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot to Bengaluru ahead of the results, given that Tuesday could throw up a complicated situation.

Updated: May 14, 2018 — 9:43 pm

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