Bengaluru, April 28: The upcoming Karnataka Assembly election is the "trailer" before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have jumped into the battleground Karnataka--it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah who are actually calling the shots.
As far as the roles of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his BJP counterpart Amit Shah are concerned, both are the "deputy commanders" aptly assisting their "kings" in the upcoming elections. Now, where does BS Yeddyurappa, the BJP's chief ministerial candidate, fit into the whole game plan? If BJP sources are to be believed he is just the "face" which the party high command can replace anytime.
The elections to the 224-member Assembly in Karnataka are scheduled on May 12. The results will be declared on May 15.
PM Modi last visited the state in February. He is all set to be back in Karnataka with a "bang". Modi will start his campaign from May 1. Reports say he will be attending as many as 20 election rallies in a period of a few days in the southern state. Poll pundits believe that the BJP has deliberately kept Modi away from Karnataka in the past few weeks to have a greater impact of his presence and speeches among the voters. Modi is the trump card of the BJP and they want to use his time and energy judiciously during the campaign, said a political columnist.
There is a general belief that it is just a few days ahead of any elections when actually a lot of undecided voters could be influenced. The PM, known for his oratory skills, has in the past managed to change the decision of voters in favour of the BJP. A political analyst told us that Modi is expected to have a very high-voltage poll campaign where he will indulge in a no-holds-barred attack against the Congress.
Coming to Siddaramaiah, in spite of not being officially declared as the Congress' CM candidate, he is holding his fort strongly. While the opposition BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) are attacking the incumbent CM for contesting elections from two seats--Chamundeshwari and Badami--supporters of Siddaramaiah brush aside any predictions suggesting that he is going to lose in both the places.
"Rather it will help the Congress to gain votes as people in Badami, where the population of Dalits, tribals and backward castes are in good numbers, are happy that CM Siddaramaiah has chosen the constituency," claimed a Congress leader.
When asked if the Congress national leadership is playing safe by not naming Siddaramaiah as the CM candidate as it might lead to a strong backlash from other senior party leaders like G Parameshwara, the Congress leader said that it was futile to say what is "obvious".
"We are going to win the elections under the leadership of Siddaramaiah. All know Siddaramaiah will become the CM again. Do we need to say the obvious?" asked the Siddaramaiah loyalist.
Although there are camps within the Congress too, they are not as staunch as we get to see in the BJP, where most big leaders are fighting among each other and further diminishing Yeddyurappa's chances of becoming the CM again.
People close to Parameshwara, the chief of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), feel that the Dalit leader stands a fair amount of chances to become the CM if the Congress comes to power, he wins his seat from Koratagere constituency and Siddaramaiah loses at least one of his seats.
Apart from Parameshwara, there is hardly anyone in the Congress to stake claim to the CM's post (if the party wins). The leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and Congress Member of Parliament Mallikarjun Kharge is unlikely to be back in Karnataka as he enjoys a good amount of clout in Delhi.
However, whether Siddaramaiah will become the next CM or not depends on the Congress' win in the elections.
On the other hand, PM Modi, whose government is facing a great deal of flak over multiple issues across the country, is looking at Karnataka for his redemption before the 2019 electoral battle.
All the troubling questions haunting both Modi and Siddaramaiah will be answered once the results will be declared. Till then, they will be extensively campaigning in Karnataka.