Congress, BJP renew intense rivalry in Karnataka
Considered crucial by both Congress and BJP to win power at the Centre, Karnataka is witnessing a stirring bipolar war between the two national parties with less than a day left for the public campaign for the Lok Sabha election to end tomorrow evening.
In a bipolar battle, the two parties are involved in a stirring battle for supremacy in the 28 Lok Sabha segments in Karnataka with a total electorate of 4.46 crore deciding the fate of 435 candidates.
Both Congress and BJP are contesting in all the 28 seats, while Janata Dal (S) which has presence only in Old Mysore has fielded its candidates in a dozen seats. Aam Admi Party, which is contesting in 15 seats, is the new player in the league and is expected to have presence in urban pockets.
There are as many as six former Chief Ministers and three union ministers in the fray which also include billionaire IT leader Nandan Nilekani who is contesting as a Congress candidate. The Infosys co-founder is the richest contestant in the country this time as he has declared total assets of Rs 7700 crore jointly owned by him and his wife Rohini Nilekani.
The top names in the fray include former Chief Ministers Veerappa Moily, Dharam Singh (both Congress), B S Yeddyurappa, D V Sadananda Gowda (both BJP), H D Devegowda and H D Kumaraswamy (both JD-S). Incidentally Mr Gowda was also the prime minister of India for 10 months.
The union ministers other than Mr Moily are Railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge and MSME minister K H Muniyappa. Other top names in the fray are BJP general secretary H N Ananth Kumar and former Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan from Aam Admi Party.
The public campaign, which remained peaceful throughout, witnessed the candidates crisis cross their segments amid searing summer heat, while many of them employed high-tech campaigning using social media, cell telephony and even 3-D images beamed to attract the voters.
Sources said situation in hilly districts known for Naxal presence like Udupi, Shimoga, Chikmagalur and Dakshina Kannada, was normal and insurgency is not likely to affect polling in any manner.
BJP is betting big on the Karnataka results evidenced by the repeated election tour taken up by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, while AICC president Sonia Gandhi and her heir apparent Rahul Gandhi have been at the helm to woo the voters which blessed the party with power in the state last year.
BJP had swept the polls during 2009 when it won 19 seats out of 28 followed by Congress just six and Janata Dal(S) three. Currently, after bypoll was held in three segments, the tally is BJP (18), Congress (9) and JD(S) the lone seat held by Mr Gowda.
After the drubbing, it received during last year's Assembly polls, BJP has regrouped well and an intense fight between Congress and the BJP is on the cards.
The past trend remain that the ruling party in the Assembly always fared poor when it comes to Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka.
BJP is bolstered by the return to party former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and former minister and leader from Bellary, S Sriramulu. The two leaders were out of the party for a brief period.
While there is direct fight between Congress and BJP in 22 segments, the remaining six coming under Old Mysore area it is a triangular fight with Janata Dal(S) thrown in.
(Posted on 14-04-2014)