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BJP?s feel-good offensive gives Krishna jitters

Before 1999 polls, SM Krishna went on a bus yatra across Karnataka that got his party a convincing victory. This time round, he is planning another bus journey.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2004 14:08 IST

Before the 1999 elections, SM Krishna went on a bus yatra across Karnataka that got his party a convincing victory. This time round, Krishna is planning another bus journey, but isn’t taking a smooth ride for granted.

What makes him edgy is the simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and the assembly. He is afraid that his campaigning for the assembly election would be drowned by the BJP’s feel-good cacophony for the Lok Sabha election. And this is besides a possible anti-incumbency factor, brought in by drought, hopeless infrastructure and non-performing ministers.

In contrast, state BJP chief Ananth Kumar is upbeat. The third important player, former PM H.D. Deve Gowda (of the Janata Dal-S), is neither oozing confidence nor losing hope. He is doing what he is best at: methodical campaigning.

Till a few months ago, Krishna was taking comfort from the ‘There Is No Alternative’ (TINA) factor. But no longer. The BJP has got its act together faster than its own leaders expected. It has attracted a long line of leaders from other parties, the biggest catch being former CM S. Bangarappa.

Krishna hasn’t lost hope — not yet, at least. He is bracing for a tough three-cornered fight against Gowda and Ananth Kumar. If Gowda is a seasoned campaigner, a tough fighter and a painstaking planner, Kumar is only singing the India-shining song and harping on Telgi. Krishna hits back to say that it was Karnataka which first exposed the stamp scam.

The caste factor is an imponderable. The Vokkaligas and Lingayats together account for only 25 per cent of the population, but contribute more than half the state’s assembly members.

Krishna is a Vokkaliga, but so is Gowda. Both are hoping for their community’s vote. Ananth Kumar is a Brahmin but the BJP has a good following among Lingayats. Gowda has a backward class icon in Siddaramaiah, but BJP has a better one in Bangarappa.

An opinion poll that Krishna recently commissioned to a national agency, predicted a victory for the Congress in Karnataka. He is hoping that this poll will be proved right.

First Published: Mar 24, 2004 17:41 IST