Karnataka assembly polls: lessons ahead for Cong, BJP

  • Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
  • |
  • Updated: May 05, 2013 07:25 IST

Polling officials check electronic voting machines (EVM) at an EVM distribution centre in Mangalore ahead of the state assembly election. UNI

The outcome of Karnataka assembly elections, which are being held on Sunday, may have big lessons for the BJP and the Congress.

There's no discernible wave in favour of any party but the Congress is seen as the natural beneficiary of the BJP's maiden rule, which has left deep disappointment due to severe infighting, corruption and unfulfilled promises.

If the Congress makes a clean sweep when the votes are counted on May 8, the BJP can blame only itself for failing to deliver in the last five years of its first government in the south, analysts say.

Assembly polls are fought on local issues and a lot depends on image and performance of candidates.

The BJP may find that the "your corruption versus my corruption" debate to beat the Congress by focusing on the UPA's failures doesn't work if its own ministers have not lived up to expectations.


Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi did attract good attention as a star campaign for the BJP. But his campaign won't move voters to forget local problems and choose their MLAs again if they have not delivered.

The Congress, though confident of recapturing power in the state, could have gained more seats if it wasn't for the shoddy manner in which candidates were selected for some constituencies and the resultant rebellion, party officials say.

Also, the win for the Congress cannot be easily read as the triumph of its vice-president Rahul Gandhi, analysts say. The Congress can't take much comfort from a situation that is benefitting it because of the BJP's failures rather than its own achievements.

Riding on several controversies, the UPA's image was a major talking point.

Karnataka has 28 Lok Sabha seats and the most the BJP has won so far is 19 in 2009. An aggressive campaign by Modi and central BJP leaders like Sushma Swaraj could leave the Congress in a tight spot in the next Lok Sabha polls in May 2014.


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