The Kannada politics has never been as important in Indian politics as it is today – because this year, neither of the parties can afford to lose the Karnataka Assembly Elections that is to be held on May 12; and this was visible in the final day of election campaigning.
The Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018 is been treated to be a bigger deal than even the Gujarat Assembly elections – which is considered to be decisive for national politics. That is because neither of the political parties can afford to lose this bid – for Congress, retaining power in Karnataka will prove the efficiency of the party’s new head and will spine the party’s campaigning for Lok Sabha 2019. Winning Karnataka will lay a strong template for Congress to win the upcoming elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Losing this election will mean that Congress will lose the momentum that was gained after the victories in Rajasthan, which was a BJP stronghold. And, if Congress doesn’t retain power in Karnataka, the party will end up with being in power in just one single big state – Punjab.
For BJP, willing Karnataka is equally critical, even if they have dug the saffron flag in majority of Indian states – and the criticality can be visualised in form of dozens of rallies by the PM and most top-guns of the party. This is because losing in Karnataka will be seen as Rahul Gandhi’s first victory as president of Congress over Modi, and the possibility that many more are to come in future. Also, winning off Karnataka will lay foundation for BJP’s influence in the southern Indian state which have never been BJP’s footholds. With turmoil in Tamil Nadu, rebellion in Andhra Pradesh, low margins in Telangana and Kerala being out of reach as usual – Karnataka is the only potential bid to set foot in the south.
Adding to the intrigue, the opinion polls predict neck-to-neck dead heat battle with Congress and the BJP winning around 90 seats each in the 224-seat assembly and HD Kumaraswamy’s JD(S) to score 35 seats. This makes Kumaraswamy the kingmaker of Karnataka results – the side his party allies with, wins. It is tough to figure out which side would the Kannada voters incline to – on one hand, Karnataka has the reputation of changing governments with metronomic regularity every five years. On the other hand, the state is known to vote in its own world and mostly in contrast with the entire nation. The decision will be done tomorrow, and the fate of the political parties can be known only on May 15.