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Cong wary after Modi's Karnataka campaign

india Updated: May 02, 2013 19:20 IST
Shekhar Iyer

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi may have sought to infuse some life into BJP with his Sunday campaign in Basavangudi neighbourhood and with his promise to return on May 2 when he goes to north Karnataka.

Similarly, for the Congress, the high-voltage campaign by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Union ministers and local film stars should keep the buoyancy up.

But, with less than a week left for May 5 polling, political leaders and pundits see pendulum swing rather to and fro.

Modi’s late entry may just about “salvage” some seats for the BJP, but the big question is whether it can alter the fate of many BJP candidates who are at the mercy of their rivals in Congress, JD(S) and BS Yeddyurappa’s KJP.

Modi wants to provoke the Congress into retaliation after his scathing attack on the Congress first family to swing votes. Congress leaders, however, say Modi may talk of his model but in Karnataka, it is BJP’s track record that will remain the talking point. However, they are a cautious lot.

The party that began well with surveys indicating 100 plus seats in the 224 assembly is seeing the inability of state leaders to resolve issues of bitter internal rivarly giving it sleepless nights.

“From a comfortable 100 to 110 seats, we are now looking at a situation where we may hover between 80 and 100. That’s not good enough,” said a key Congress official. In a number of seats, a “faulty” distribution of ticket with the buzz of money playing a role is haunting the official candidates.

SM Krishna, the Congress’ urban face, particularly in the Bengaluru region, has made caustic comments about the state leadership and ticket distribution, leaving Congressmen worried. He skipped the party’s manifesto release and later campaigned for some of his supporters. Even though some state leaders believe that “he is past his prime and won’t have much impact,” there were other leaders who thought that Krishna could have helped in city areas as he is credited with its development when he was chief minister.

However, it’s the father-son duo of former PM HD Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy, who look set to cash in any split in votes. Both of them are concentrating beyond their Mysore-Mandaya strongholds for a repeat of the JD(S)’s 2004 result when it won 58 seats. In the 2008 elections, in the Bengaluru region that accounts for 28 seats, the BJP had bagged 17 under Yeddyurappa, who worked on a “sympathy factor” after the JDS refused to hand over power to the party, reneging on its promise of rotation of power in the coalition. This time, he is out to diminish the BJP.