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Minor parties likely to play spoilsport for Cong, BJP in Karnataka polls

Opinion polls are predicting a tough contest in Karnataka assembly elections with minor parties like KPJP hoping to win a few seats and decide the contest in others.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2018 19:13 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
karnataka assembly polls,karnataka polls,assembly elections in Karnataka
BJP President Amit Shah with Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa and party leader Jagadish Shettar during a road show in Hubli on April 12, 2018.(PTI)

A slew of minor parties is hoping to nick a few seats and decide the contest in others in the May 12 elections to the 224-member Karnataka assembly as the three principal contenders Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal (Secular) slug it out in the state.

The Aam Aadmi Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and even the Karnataka Janata Paksha, credited with having reduced the BJP to the third spot in 2013, are known names.

But others like the Mahila Empowerment Party and Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janata Party (KPJP) and Bharatiya Janashakti Congress are also hoping to make an impact.

With opinion polls predicting a tough contest in the polls, leaders of the principal parties are trying hard to nullify the impact that these spoilers might have. The major parties are worried that the smaller ones with even a few hundred votes could make the difference between the winner and the loser in close contests.

For instance, Prithvi Reddy of the AAP is set to battle it out against the Bengaluru development minister KJ George and is confident of causing some damage.

“The problem appears to be that the narrative is no longer about what anybody stands for. People are voting to defeat someone rather than vote for a person,” he said.

The AAP, Reddy claims, is out to prove that the people, when given a choice, will make the right decision.

“Hence, our campaign slogan is this time you have a choice. Besides, in these days when constituencies are considered fiefs we are telling them to vote for a representative and not a ruler,” he added.

The CPI(M) is also getting ready to attack the three parties for failing to address the distress of farmers and labourers in the state.

“Even the government of Siddaramaiah, who claims to be a socialist, was happy in allowing an increase in privatisation, even in agriculture. This government has done little for the poor and labouring classes,” Maruti Manpade, CPM’s farmer leader from Kalaburagi, said.

The KJP, on the other hand, wants to continue its approach of fielding candidates against the BJP’s key leaders. Prasanna Kumar, the founder of the KJP, said this time his aim would be to ensure the defeat of BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje.

“Wherever she contests from, I will fight against her,” Kumar said, adding that the next government in the state would have to seek his party’s support.

However, political analysts are sceptical of these parties’ chances.

“I don’t think many of these parties can win, but in close contests, the few votes that they will poll will be decisive in deciding the winner,” Narendar Pani of the National Institute of Advanced Studies said.

“For example, any votes the AAP gets in Shanti Nagar might be at the expense of the BJP and might help NA Haris (who is likely to be the Congress candidate). Similarly, the CPI(M) is more likely to eat into the votes of the Congress more than the other parties,” Pani said.

“These parties might have a cumulative effect on the polls, even if individually they might not fare well.”

The counting of votes will take place on May 15.

First Published: Apr 18, 2018 12:23 IST