Bengaluru, May 12: For some experts, the Karnataka Assembly election, the voting for which began on Saturday morning, is a three-cornered contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)). For others, the election in the southern state is a battle between the BJP and the incumbent Congress.
While the JD(S) has to win at least 40 seats out of the 224 to remain relevant in Karnataka politics (provided it is a hung Assembly), for the BJP and the Congress it's an all-important fight which both simply can't afford to lose.
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.
"Winning Karnataka is also important for the BJP, which rules 21 states accounting for about 70 per cent of the national population but is yet to wedge its foot into the south, which sends 130 lawmakers to parliament," writes NDTV.
The BJP came to power for the first time in Karnataka in 2008 and BS Yeddyurappa was made the chief minister. In fact, Karnataka was the first state in the southern region where the BJP formed its own government 10 years ago. Tiil date, it has failed to repeat its Karnataka feat in any other southern state.
However, the BJP government's tenure in Karnataka was marred by corruption charges, which saw three CM helming the affairs of the state in five years. In 2013, the party was voted out of power and the Congress won the elections with a majority.
Both PM Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi extensively campaigned in Karnataka with the hope of helping their respective parties come to power this time.
On Saturday, out of the 224-seat Assembly, voting took place for 222 constituencies. The voting in the two constituencies-- Rajarajeshwari Nagar and Jayanagar--both in Bengaluru--will take place later.
The Election Commission deferred polling to the Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency over "fake" electoral identity cards that were discovered on Tuesday. Polling in the constituency will now be held on May 28 and counting will take place on May 31. However, the results of the rest of the 222 seats will be out on May 15. Polling had earlier been countermanded in Jayanagar constituency following the death of the sitting BJP legislator BN Vijay Kumar a few days ago.
The JD(S) maintains that it will come to power on its own and rubbishes the theory that it will be the "kingmaker"--either siding with the BJP or the Congress-- as most pre-poll surveys predicted a hung Assembly.
The JD(S) has formed an alliance with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to fight the Karnataka elections. Both the parties say the alliance has been formed keeping an eye on the 2019 elections where in all probability all the major regional parties will join hands to fight against the BJP.
The position of the Congress in the anti-BJP alliance is still in doubt. If the Congress wins the Karnataka polls, it will have a strong say in the anti-BJP alliance or else it has to play a second fiddle. All these theories and speculations will be laid to rest after the results will be out in a few days.