BJP, Cong locked in fierce battle for K'taka
A resurgent Congress and a determined BJP are locked in a fierce battle for the next month's Karnataka Assembly elections while the Janata Dal (S), eroded by desertions in its ranks, hopes to remain in the reckoning.
Both Congress and the BJP began wooing the 4.07 crore electorate on the stability plank, playing up on the voters' mind on the "bitter experience" the state had undergone in the last 40 months after the 2004 polls, which had given a fractured verdict.
During this period, the JDS made a deft use of the fractured verdict to get the best out of the coalition governments it forged with both the parties.
The JDS which too played the tune of stability before the Election Commission announced the poll schedule, however, has gone on the backfoot with its leader HD Deve Gowda declaring "no party can form the government without our support", evoking sharp reactions from the BJP and Congress.
Gowda, who emerged as a key player in the last assembly elections after the JDS won 58 seats in the 224-member House, enjoyed power in both the coalition governments-- Congress-JDS and JDS-BJP and probably the former prime minister is eyeing a similar role for his party this time too.
Gowda's remarks came in the backdrop of spate of desertions by some senior leaders of the party.
More than half of the 58 former MLAs of the JDS have now joined either the BJP or Congress and prominent among them include, M P Prakash, Lingayat leader from North Karnataka region, Vaijnath Patil, B R Patil and in Southern belt Dalit leader H C Mahadevappa and Vokkaliga leaders-- G T Devegowda and B N Bacchegowda.