Congress at advantage in Karnataka, "but only for now," warns BJP
Pro-poll surveys, pro-Kannada identity politics, sympathy wave from "vindictive" IT raids against its leaders; everything is working in the Congress favour in Karnataka. The impact is directly seen with a new spurt of confidence and exuberance among Congress leaders in the state. While the party is flying high on confidence, the BJP is playing the underdog and with a reason.
The Congress has been on top of its game in recent times but BJP has warned of a lethal strike, come December. While the party is currently playing the underdog, it is leaving no stone unturned to prepare its counterattack. If claims of BJP leaders in the state are to go by, the party is letting the Congress brim with confidence and will wait until it turns into overconfidence before they deal the blow.
"Siddaramaiah's strategy is in your face but the BJP's is yet to unravel. Let the Chief Minister gloat. Wait till December for things to change. We are being called the underdogs and we will continue playing it and maybe catch the Congress unaware. The more the Congress believes it is going to win the elections, the better," said a senior BJP leader from Karnataka.
The IT raids that would have, in any other scenario, dented the image of the Congress has worked in its favour in Karnataka. The party is riding on a sympathy wave of thoughts by reiterating that its leaders are being targetted by the BJP. While the BJP is struggling to woo its traditional vote bank of Lingayats, Congress has claimed that it has managed to secure its traditional vote bank of AHINDA (Minorities, backward classes and Dalits). The BJP is not willing to buy the claim.
"The Congress is busy breaking up BJP's votes by engineering a rift within Lingayats and evoking people's sentiments over the language and flag issue. While Lingayat row, the Congress hopes will dent our votes, it is using the language issue to appeal to Bengaluru voters. They want to snatch the 26 seats in Bengaluru, considered BJP's strength, from us. But BJP has a way with people and it is only a matter of time before you start seeing the results on the ground," said the BJP leader.
JD(S) not in the race anymore?
As if to add strength to the BJP's claim of Congress becoming over confident, the party has sidelined JD(S), Devegowda's party that has all the possibilities of emerging as a kingmaker. The Congress has categorically stated that the fight is truly between them and the BJP. In his address to the press, Karnataka Congress In-charge General Secretary K C Venugopal spoke extensively about preparing his party to take on the BJP but refused to acknowledge JD(S) as competition.
"We are ready to take on the BJP. The fight is going to be between the Congress and the BJP, two national parties. I am not ruling out JD(S). They have a significant presence in the assembly," he said when asked whether his party has ruled out the JD(S) as competition.
Asked if the Congress is becoming overconfident, its In-charge General Secretary K C Venugopal denied the same but maintained that they would never make the mistake of underestimating the BJP. "Can anyone underestimate the BJP after what they tried to do in Gujarat? We will never make the mistake of underestimating them but we are prepared. Congress is confident but we are not overconfident. We get our confidence from the grassroots level impact. Our booth level workers are giving us updates on the people's perception towards each party. We also feel the support during rallies and addresses that our leaders have held across the state," said Karnataka Congress General Secretary K C Venugopal.
In an election year, things have the capacity to turn right around. The BJP is hopeful that its war room that has been set up in Bengaluru will help it bounce back with a bang. A team is already working for the BJP towards the elections for three months now and the party claims that it is waiting for the right time to strike back.