Unlike in 2008 when the elections were held in three phases, on May 10, 16 and 22, the Election Commission has gone in for single phase polling on May 5 for Karnataka Assembly in 2013.
The ruling BJP is desparate to hold on the southern state as it wanted to Karnataka to be its launch pad for substantial gains in South India. For the Congress party, this is going to be a test run for newly installed party vice president Rahul Gandhi before mini polls later this year and general elections next year. As for Janata Dal (S), it looks like a make or break polls as the party charts out a future course to position itself as a kingmaker.
The nascent KJP has a veteran as its head. BS Yeddyurappa has a point to prove and will play dirty to spoil the BJP's chances.
Given these challenges, the elections are going to be fought on simple principle - means justifying the end, and the means are inducements, money and liquor.
The ruling BJP has accepted its defeat even before the vote is cast. But it would like to salvage bit of pride. It surely going to help the party as the popularity of second line of leadership is going to be tested and it will be a learning experience. The party has right caste combination at the top but it remains to be seen whether it will translate into decent tally.
The problem with the Congress is its expectations of victory. It could be undone by the acute factionalism and the party is yet to address this top of the pyramid problem. The negative vote has its limitations even in Karnataka, which has huge anti-incumbency factor. The challenge for the Congress is to turn this feeling into tangible numbers.
The JDS is the joker in the pack and could well end up as major factor in next government formation. It suits HD Kumarswamy to play the role of kingmaker, even though he may prefer to be the king himself. But it may not come easy. They party's hold is fragmented and he does not have second line of leadership to cobble up a good number. The single phase polling will definitely be a disadvantage to him.