Game of Thrones is in full swing in Karnataka. BJP, after winning the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections, want to continue their winning streak in upcoming Karnataka elections too which is considered as gateway to south India, and for that they are leaving no stone unturned. BJP has directly thrown their trump card and star campaigner, PM Modi into the battle. Initially, BJP carried out an experiment to make the Karnataka elections a contest between two stalwart leaders of the state, namely, Siddaramaiah and Yeddyurappa. But very soon the BJP realized that this might not be a feasible strategy. In 2008, Yedyurappa had acceptability across all the sections of society. Also, the mandate which he got in 2008 was because people were sympathetic to him. JD(S), led by Kumaraswamy, denied the promised CM post to Yeddyurappa and back-stabbed him. However, now he is seen only as an ‘influential lingayat’ leader in the state. Given this fact, Siddaramaiah had a clear cut edge over Yeddyurappa in the state.
But now, the contest is directly between PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi, a tried and tested winning formula for BJP. It is clearly evident by the recent war of words going on between the two. Yesterday, in response to an earlier challenge posed by Rahul Gandhi, PM Modi said, “For 15 minutes, without taking a paper in your hand, can you please talk about the achievements of your government in Karnataka? You can speak in any language as you please — English, Hindi or your mother tongue.” This direct contest between PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi gives a much bigger edge to BJP than a Siddaramaiah versus Yeddyurappa contest. Plus, a shift of many strong leaders to the BJP can turn the tide in BJP’s favor. SM Krishna of the Vokkaliga community, the person behind Bengaluru’s development as an IT hub, has joined BJP. Srinivasa Prasad, a stalwart Dalit leader, shifted from Congress to BJP. Kumar Bangarappa and K. Jayaprakash Hegde also joined the BJP. These switches and an expansion of the RSS base in the state gives BJP a clear advantage.
The Karnataka assembly elections are basically political laboratory for 2019 parliament elections. BJP is preparing its ground for 2019, and Karnataka elections are its founding stone. The outcome of the Karnataka election will heavily impact the assembly polls due in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram. BJP’s victory will send a strong message that BJP is way ahead than its rival in the upcoming state elections this year. If Congress tastes another defeat under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, then PM Modi will try his level best to make 2019 a showdown between him and Rahul Gandhi. And no prize for guessing what will happen next. Congress does not have any choice given the fact that it is more of a family business than a political party. They are running a party to promote a member of a particular family to the seat of Prime Minister.
What happens in Karnataka will not necessarily affect only Karnataka. It will have its reverberations across the nation. It will open the door for future possibilities of alliances and strategies. If BJP wins Karnataka elections, it will move one step closer to its ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat abhiyaan.’ Karnataka is one of the largest states where Congress is still in power. If Siddaramaiah manages to secure a victory from here then it will be a feather in his cap. A victory from here will be a massive boost to Congress party. A victory means Congress can also portray itself as leader of Maha-gathbandhan against BJP. Therefore all eyes are now on the Karnataka elections.