The countdown to Karnataka Assembly Elections have begun

After the recent debacle of Congress in UP and other States (except Punjab), the Congress management has woken up to the need to work early for securing its key state of Karnataka. Mr Modi has pre-empted all political parties with his call for “New India” campaign for 2022 far ahead of the 2018 and 2019 elections. Others need to catch up with his forward looking vision.

Congress has made its move which is to consolidate all “Anti Modi” political parties under one “Grand Anti-Modi Alliance” (GAMA) across India. This will be their principle poll strategy for the immediate future. Congress is banking on its position of a “Joker” which can be present in all states as a secondary partner but collectively find more seats in Loksabha than any one other regional outfit.  It is not a bad strategy but one needs to wait and see how successful it would turn out to be.

From the BJP side, it is becoming increasingly clear after the UP verdict that going without a nominated CM face is better and Modi will be the sole election face. Hence it will be Modi Vs GAMA in Karnataka for all practical purposes.

In Karnataka, pursuing the same strategy, the Congress and JDS will try to forge an alliance at the pre-poll stage along with perhaps the remnants of AAP that may be present in pockets. There will be some smaller political outfits including those related to language movements and River water movements who will need to take a stand either on the side of Modi or the GAMA.

Given Mr Amit Sha’s strategy in UP, he would not be averse to some local partnerships with small parties if there is a political advantage. The onboarding of S M Krishna is a good strategy which BJP has embraced since Mr Krishna is the architect of the IT development in Karnataka and commands respect in the Urban area as a CM who actually delivered development during his time.  BJP has other factions within itself like the Yeddyurappa faction, Eshwarappa Faction , Ashok Faction etc. Mr Amit Shah may have to treat each of these factions as a small party and BJP as a coalition of these parties so that they all work in unison. Otherwise, they may work against each other and ensure Congress victory.

Will the Congress work as much for its own coalitions as dividing the BJP within is what political observers need to watch out. Mr Digvijay Singh is being removed as the high command representative after his poor showing in Goa and one may see a different leader in charge of Congress-Karnataka affairs which will determine the strategy of Congress for the elections.

The honest but not so powerful faces in BJP who are today dwarfed by the Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa factions need to assert themselves within the party forum and ensure that Mr Amit Shah and Modi take appropriate decisions to defeat the combined might of Congress and JDS. Left to Congress itself, despite the budgetary sops of Mr Siddaramaiah, they may find ways of defeating themselves. But JDS with its base support and strategic intelligence of Mr Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda will add significant strength to the coalition if it comes out.

But the dilemma for JDS would be that it may actually emerge the second largest party after BJP if it fights alone or relegated to the third place if it fights along with Congress. It would therefore be interesting to see if Congress would be able to provide equal status to JDS in the coalition or ego clashes will surface even before the elections.

We shall on this platform start observing the developments and watch how the future for Karnataka shapes out.

Join me in building this observatory for the Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018.

V.N.Rao

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