Bengaluru, May 14: Who will win the highly-contested Karnataka Assembly elections 2018? Will the Congress pay the price of anti-incumbency wave? Will the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remain bereft of power in the southern state? These and many more questions are literally haunting the political parties, politicians and analysts across the country these days.
Since the stakes are pretty high in the elections, the polling for which got over on Saturday, the frowns on the foreheads of the political bigwigs are also very apparent ahead of the results. The results of the polls (voting took place for 222 seats out of 224) will be out on Tuesday.
Karnataka is one of the last few states where the Congress is in power. The grand old party which was in power at the Centre for several terms has been already decimated to a weaker version of its old self, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's wave. Today, the Congress is in power only in Punjab, Mizoram and Puducherry. The Congress has been witnessing its steady downfall since it lost the 2014 General Elections.
If the Congress has to remain a contender for the big 2019 General Elections, then it has to win Karnataka elections at any contest. Similarly, the BJP, which is in power in 21 states in the country and has its government at the Centre, wants to badly capture Karnataka to have its sway in the southern part of the country before 2019.
Recently, during an election campaign in Karnataka, PM Modi mocked the Congress saying that once it loses Karnataka it will become a "PPP (Puducherry, Punjab and Parivar (family)) Congress".
"After May 15 (when the poll results will be declared), the Indian National Congress will be reduced to 'PPP Congress'-- P for Punjab, P for Puducherry, and P for Parivar (family)," Modi told an election rally in Gadag, where he predicted the state's ruling party would be decimated in the elections.
While most of the exit poll results have predicted a hung assembly, six out of 10 such surveys have stated that the BJP will get the highest number of seats in the Karnataka elections. All these predictions aside, if the Congress loses the Karnataka Assembly elections or fails to form the next government in the state by forging an alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular), along with the grand old party, the already "failing career" of the party chief Rahul Gandhi is likely to hit rock bottom for sure.
In December last year, Rahul was anointed as the party chief in the middle of the Gujarat Assembly elections. Thus, the Karnataka election is officially the first big test for Rahul as the Congress head. He has taken over the reins of the party at a time when the Congress is witnessing one of its worst phases in its more than 130 years of existence.
The battle of Karnataka has great national implications. Actually, it does not matter whether incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah will get the hot seat or not once again. What concerns the Congress most is Rahul's image as a successful politician, who can win elections like a commander leading from the front.
The 47-year-old scion of the Gandhi family was omnipresent during the Karnataka Assembly election campaign period. He visited and conducted rallies in all the 224 state Assembly constituencies in the last few months.
Observers say Rahul has emerged as a strong and matured party head, a far cry from his "reluctant politician" days. Nonetheless, Rahul is yet to give a tough competition to PM Modi in the department of igniting passion among voters with his oratory skills.
Rahul, in short, is still a "junior" in front of Modi. The Gandhi scion--who has recently said that he is ready to be the next PM of the country if the Congress gets the majority in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls--has to raise his game by several notches if he has to survive the "big, bad world of politics".