Pre-poll survey predicts Congress victory
Congress would be in a position to form a government in Karnataka,
getting past the half way mark of 113 seats in the 225-member
house while the ruling BJP's tally
Bangalore: The May 5
Karnataka assembly poll is turning out to be unique with no wave
in favour of any party fighting the BJP, though its maiden rule in
the state has become synonymous with corruption and infighting,
providing three chief ministers in a little over four years.
The Congress, though confident of recapturing power in the state
after seven years, no longer talks of a wave for it and is
realistic on the number of seats it will bag in the 225-member
"We will win 125 to 130 seats," is the refrain of the state
Congress party unit chief G. Parameshwara.
That is just 12 to 17 seats more than the 113 required for
majority in the house, which is made up of 224 elected members and
one nominated to represent the Anglo-Indian community.
Interestingly, a CNN-IBN poll Thursday gave the Congress 117-129
seats and a mere 39-49 to the BJP.
The sober mood in the Congress was reflected Wednesday by Defence
Minister A.K. Antony, who heads the party's coordination committee
for the poll.
"My feedback is that we can form our own government in the state,"
Antony said in Bangalore while releasing the Congress manifesto
for the poll.
This assessment stems from the realization that the electorate's
anger against the BJP will not necessarily translate into a
massive vote for Congress as both parties are in the same boat in
matters of corruption and infighting.
The Karnataka poll is a sort of battle of corruptions, at the
national level under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance
(UPA) government and the BJP regime at the state level.
As far as infighting goes, the BJP, or whatever is left of it
after its scandal-hit former leader B.S. Yeddyurappa and his
supporters quit the party, is better off than the Congress in the
The Congress state unit continues to be plagued by disunity, with
former chief minister and former external affairs minister S.M.
Krishna sulking and chief ministerial aspirants more interested in
ensuring their followers victory to consolidate their claim to the
Krishna, after keeping the party on tenterhooks for several days,
has begun to campaign.
However, he makes sure to send clear messages to the party that he
is unhappy at being ignored in selection of candidates,
particularly in areas where he believes he still has strong
influence, like his home district Mandya, about 80km from
He stayed away from Wednesday's manifesto release, forcing Antony,
former central minister Ambika Soni and other leaders to go to his
residence in upscale Sadashivanagar in north-east Bangalore to
plead with him to continue to campaign for the party.
The Congress also knows that the state's political landscape has
changed for the worse with caste polarization getting sharper and
Yeddyurappa's Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) joining the fight for
The battle is also not evenly spread across the state and even a
slight miscalculation in selecting candidates or in the campaign
can affect victory prospects.
In north and central Karnataka, it will be a three-cornered fight
between the Congress, BJP and KJP; in coastal Karnataka it is
Congress versus BJP and in the south, it is a battle between the
Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular.
The presence of the KJP is expected to help the Congress, though
the BJP is trying to embarrass both Yeddyurappa and the Congress
over that party's formation.
The BJP refrain is that Yeddyurappa formed the party at the behest
of Congress in return for keeping the Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) off his back.
Adding to these headaches is the burden the Congress carries by
making the Karnataka poll a must-win case to boost its sagging
morale ahead of several assembly elections in the north and the
Lok Sabha poll next May.
In contrast, for the BJP it is a case of "victory is welcome but
defeat is not much of a loss" as the party is more interested in
returning to power in New Delhi, for which its focus remains
firmly on the northern states.
Karnataka has 28 Lok Sabha seats and the maximum the BJP has won
so far is 19 in 2009.
As BJP Lok Sabha member from Bangalore North D.B. Chandre Gowda
put it recently, completing a full five-year term in Karnataka was
itself a major achievement for his party. Hence the Congress, and
not the BJP, has much to lose if it does not win the May 5 poll by
a comfortable margin.
A small consolation for BJP, after bringing a bad name to itself
and to Karnataka.
(V.S. Karnic can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)