The southern state of Karnataka saw political parties adopting different strategies during the high-decibel poll campaigns to win the state Assembly polls held on Wednesday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emphasised on its development plank and the work it had done in the state over the past nearly four years, besides banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity to tide over the anti-incumbency wave, while the Congress sought to keep the narrative to local issues, including price rise, unemployment and corruption under the BJP government.
Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar and Mallikarjun Kharge hit the roads for electioneering in the state. Corruption was a key issue, with leaders of the Congress levelling allegations against the BJP in almost every public meeting.
The ‘40% sarkar’ jibe that claims ministers and government officials demand a 40 per cent ‘commission’ from contractors was heard often at Congress rallies and roadshows.
The party also focussed on the five guarantees – Gruha Jyothi, Gruha Lakshmi, Anna Bhagya, Yuva Nidhi and Shakti – it promised in its election manifesto, with leaders promising their immediate implementation if the party is voted to power.
The BJP pulled out all stops to win the polls in the state which has a caste arithmetic that is complex and where it is facing anti-incumbency.
BJP leaders repeatedly emphasised upon the advantages of double-engine government and the work it had done in the state over the past nearly four years.
However, PM Modi mainly focused on central schemes and attacked the Congress and the JD (S) but refrained from speaking on the acheivements of the ruling BJP in the state.
The Janata Dal (Secular), too, kept its focus on local issues during the campaign. HD Kumaraswamy remained the party’s star campaigner, visiting over 110 constituencies. While campaigning in Mangaluru North constituency, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda said during HD Kumaraswamy’s tenure as Chief Minister, several schemes beneficial to the common man were launched.
Meanwhile, even as exit polls for the Karnataka Assembly elections on Wednesday indicated a hung assembly, India Today-Axis My India and Zee News Matrize agency are among those who have predicted the possibility of a Congress victory with seats in the range of 122-140 and 103-118. For the BJP, News Nation-CGS predicted an upper limit of 114 and Asianet Suvarna News-Jan ki Baat predicted 117 .
While Karnataka is the first major state to hold assembly polls in 2023, the election results in the only BJP-ruled state in the South is being closely watched nationally as it is expected to set the tone for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The year will also witness elections to a host of state Assemblies, including Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh K Chandrashekhar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi-ruled Telangana and BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.