The Karnataka election campaign has come to an end. This time around, BJP president Amit Shah has ended the BJP election campaign with an inspiring road show. The successful road show carried out at Badami was received with a lot of enthusiasm by the BJP cadres and the general public and once again showed that the BJP has left Congress behind especially towards the end of election campaign the state. Siddaramaiah is going to contest from the Badami constituency. Interestingly, Siddaramaiah had decided to contest from two seats after being apprehensive of a skewed electoral equation against him in the constituency of Chamundeshwari in Mysuru. Right at the end of the campaigning process, Amit Shah stepped up the heat against Siddaramaiah even as he showcased popular sentiment in favour of the BJP in the constituency contested by the sitting Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
The way the BJP president has gone right into Siddaramaiah’s bastion shows that BJP has gone for the kill. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah had initially decided to contest from Chamundeshwari. It is suggested by news reports that Siddaramaiah wished to contest from Chamundeshwari primarily because of concentration of Kurubas, an OBC caste grouping in the state. Siddaramaiah himself being a Kuruba thought that high concentration of Kurubas in the constituency will help him in accentuating his vote share. However, Siddaramaiah was badly done in by the JD (S) by pitting a political heavyweight, GT Deve Gowda, against Siddaramaiah from Chamundeshwari. Gowda, a Vokkaliga, threw electoral equations out of whack as far as Siddaramaiah is concerned. Vokkaligas constitute the main voter base of the JD (S) and there is heavy concentration of the ethnic group in Chamundeshwari. Therefore, Siddaramaiah’s aspirations of banking on Kuruba voter base in the constituency were done and dusted. In what was seen by many as a sign of surrender on part of Siddaramaiah, he decided to move to a safer constituency, Badami, after facing horrendous propositions in Chamundeshwari. Siddaramaiah had been repeatedly claiming that he will contest only from Chamundeshwari but he must have been shaken by the ground realities in the constituency. In such circumstances, he was given the green signal to contest from Badami as well, much to the displeasure of top Congress leadership.
The idea behind contesting from Badami was again the heavy concentration of Kurubas in the region. However, BJP has given Siddaramaiah trying moments by fielding a political heavyweight, Sriramulu from the constituency. Sriramulu is not only a popular face in the state but also has great following among the Valmikis who constitute a sizeable community in Karnataka. Moreover, Yeddyurappa’s charisma would help BJP in getting a sizeable percentage of the Lingayat votes in the constituency. Notably, Lingayats are the majority community in Badami. If BJP wins over them, they have a good chance to emerge victorious against the sitting chief minister.
The Badami road-show is reminiscent of how the BJP went confidently into the 2014 general elections. At that time also BJP had not shied away from giving headaches to the Congress right in its bastion. Even as Smriti Irani contested from the Amethi constituency against Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Modi had addressed a huge crowd gathering as the nation was staring right into the elections. This definitely had a spillover effect for the BJP. Though, the BJP was not able to defeat Rahul Gandhi from the Congress stronghold, it did have a telling impact on the overall election process.
The way BJP has not let Siddaramaiah get an easy win in his constituency is a clear indication of the aggressive strategy adopted by the BJP. Siddaramaiah was kept busy in tackling adverse equations within Badami and Chamundeshwari. He was kept alienated from the election process. Siddaramaiah had the option of saving either his own seats or taking forward the Congress campaign. Even as the BJP chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa, BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned extensively against the Congress in Karnataka. The palpable public enthusiasm in the Badami roadshow of Amit Shah seems like an indication of the fruits that the brilliant strategy pursued by the BJP has yielded.