Karnataka Elections: Final AssessmentWith campaigning over, it seems none of the parties or personalities have managed to ignite a spark in the Karnataka elections despite the acrimonious tone of the campaign. This election will go down as the most wave-less election ever in recent memory. If there is anti-incumbency against the Congress and Siddaramaiah, it is not overtly visible and neither does it seem that the BJP has majorly capitalized on it. It is also not immediately visible whether PM Modis campaigning blitz has swayed a sizeable number of voters towards the BJP. Neither is it visible whether the JD(S) has managed to influence voters with its talk of non-Congress, non-BJP government. With the Lingayats divided over how granting of minority status will benefit the community, it is also not clear which way their votes will go. An added element of mystery was introduced after fake voter cards were discovered in large numbers in the state. Further, it was reported that parties, especially the BJP, was buying voters for not voting, something that has never been seen before. Hence, for all analytical purposes, it seems that Karnataka is headed for a hung assembly, as predicted by most opinion polls till now, with a plus-minus variation of 5%.
By Sunil Garodia
The stakes are high for all parties. The Congress desperately needs to retain the biggest state it still rules, more so when it means that it will prevent the BJP from expanding its footprint in the south. This is evident from the fact that the party even pressed the ailing Sonia Gandhi to campaign and former PM Manmohan Singh was made to issue scathing criticisms of PM Modis choice of words during the campaign and failure of his government at the Centre on two successive days, apart from the time and effort Rahul Gandhi put in the campaign. The BJP knows that Karnataka is the only state in the south where it has the best chance of forming the government, either on its own or in alliance with the JD(S). Hence, it has pulled out all the stops and has poured in money, mobilized workers and has carried out a high-octane campaign with Modi pitching in for many days at the end. The JD(S) knows that it has little chance of forming the government on its own, but it also knows that the way things are going, it will be the kingmaker. Hence, the party is working hard to retain its loyal vote bank and win as many seats as it can so that it can bargain hard with the suitor.
It needs reminding that Siddaramaiah was a Deve Gowda protégé and a JD(S) leader before he left the party to join the Congress in 2006. Hence, a natural enmity can be said to exist between him and Deve Gowda. Still, politics has often thrown up strange bedfellows and it will not be a surprise if they join hands. It all depends on which party manages to emerge on the top and what is the difference in seats between the top two. If the BJP manages to get nearly the same seats that the Congress gets, it is most likely that JD(S) will gravitate towards the party. On the other hand, a JD(S)-Congress alliance is more likely if the Congress gets, say, 100 seats to BJPs 70 and the JD(S) manages to get 40-50 seats. The only thing that will perhaps prevent the JD(S) from allying with the BJP, despite the mutual admiration society PM Modi and Deve Gowda seem to have formed, is the fact that H D Kumaraswamy, Deve Gowdas son, will be wary of the party since he burnt his fingers badly when he allied with it in 2004.But Deve Gowda is likely to prevail upon his son to forget the past in the larger interests of the party if the situation demands. So if the Congress does not get more than 95 seats, it is most likely that the BJP-JD(S) combination will form the next government in Karnataka.