Congress gets majority in Karnataka on back of well-crafted campaign | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Congress gets majority in Karnataka on back of well-crafted campaign

May 13, 2023 12:53 PM IST

The campaign involved large events, catchy slogans such as “40% sarkara” focussed on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s alleged corruption

The Congress has won the Karnataka assembly polls on the back of a well-crafted campaign, which began over a year ago. The campaign involved large events, catchy slogans such as “40% sarkara” focussed on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s government alleged corruption and putting up a united front despite having more than one claimant for the chief minister’s post. The Congress overcame the challenge of having its vote bank spread across the state.

Congress leader DK Shivakumar in Bengaluru on Saturday. (Twitter)
Congress leader DK Shivakumar in Bengaluru on Saturday. (Twitter)

Head start

The beginning of poll preparations at least a year in advance was one of the key changes to the party’s strategy. The Congress focussed on reviving its cadre, taking into account the need for increasing its vote share and the campaign on the ground.

The party’s cadre was demoralised after the fall of their coalition government in 2019. A string of resignations by lawmakers of Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) reduced the 15-month-old coalition between the two parties to a minority and paved the return of the BJP to power in 2019.

The Congress’s Mekedatu Padayatra (foot march) demanding implementation of the Mekedatu drinking water project even as Tamil Nadu opposed it also helped the party mobilise people in January 2023 and provided it the much-needed momentum.

DK Shivakumar said when he took over as the state Congress chief, Rahul Gandhi asked him if the former could do something to mobilise the cadre after the fall of their coalition government and poor performance in the by-polls. “We took out the Mekedatu Padayatra. Our party workers and people rallied behind us because we were doing it so that Bengaluru city may get power and drinking water,” he said.

Congress leader PC Vishnunadh said the event organised to celebrate the 75th birthday of former chief minister Siddaramaiah also helped boost the momentum. He added Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir too came as a morale booster for the cadre.

The Congress separately reactivated its booth-level workers.

Focus on corruption

The Congress’s campaign centred round “40% Sarkara” based on Karnataka Contractors Association’s bribery allegation against BJP leaders and officials. It included “PayCM”, a wordplay on digital payments firm PayTM. Congress campaign visuals showed chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s face in the middle of a QR code linked to a page listing corruption cases against the BJP leaders. The Congress also highlighted the death of a contractor, who alleged former minister KS Eshwarappa demanded a bribe from him in April 2020.

The party also raised issues such as irregularities in the police sub-inspector recruitment.

Welfare schemes

The Congress’s pledges about welfare schemes also had much resonance. It said it will provide stipends to the unemployed, 2,000 to women heads of families, 200 units of free electricity, and 10 kilograms of rice to the poor to provide relief from increasing prices if voted to power.

United front

Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah’s claim to the state’s top elected post in 2022 threatened to dampen the party’s chances. It was speculated that the two would take out separate marches, but the party’s top leadership stepped in and had them put up a united front including during the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The two leaders have since stuck to the party line that the Congress legislative party and the top leadership will take the final call on the chief ministerial post.

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