The Congress party has released its manifesto and interestingly it was done at Mangalore which falls under coastal Karnataka which is considered to be a BJP bastion.
While the Congress says that Mangalore was chosen because it was geographically convenient for the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, analysts would see a larger message in it.
The Congress would be looking to send out a message to the voters of the coastal belt. Over the past couple of months, the BJP has turned the tables in the coast where it had put up a poor performance back in 2013.
The Congress realises the importance of the coast where there are 38 seats up for grabs. With opinion polls showing that the party would fall short of the majority mark, the coast becomes important for it.
For the BJP, the coast has been the gateway to Karnataka. The Congress is aware of this and would look to turn the tables if it is not too late as yet. Further, the Congress is also aware of the fact when it has swept the coast it has come to power in Karnataka. Back in 2013, the Congress ended up winning 21 seats from the cost and romped home to power. The 2013 performance was its best in the past two decades.
While the BJP has put up the high-decibel campaign in the coast accusing the Congress of minority appeasement to the extent that it was losing Hindu leaders in murders, the Congress has refuted those charges. The Congress has on the other hands said that it would protect the minorities and deal sternly with the communal forces.
The Congress also realises that it has lost out on the Hindu votes as there has been a lot of anger among the Hindus over several issues. The Hindus feel that the Congress has indulged in minority appeasement. Further, there has been a ripple effect of what happened in Kodagu in Mangalore. The Tipu Jayanti celebrations have been opposed tooth and nail in Kodagu and the effects of this were seen on the coast as well.
The Hindu votes account for 68.99 while in the case of the Muslims and Christians it is 13.15 and 17.40. While the voting base for the BJP in the Lok Sabha segment has remained loyal in the assembly polls it has been a switch.
Releasing the manifesto from Mangalore could well be a strategy to convey something larger to the voter, analysts feel. Will it pay off or is it too late. Wait till May 15.
|Karnataka Assembly Election dates|
|Date of notification||April 17|
|Last date to file nominations||April 24|
|Last date to withdraw nominations||April 27|
|Date of polling||May 12|
|Date of counting||May 15|