The Karnataka election race has seen it all from demands for linguistic dominance to separate flags, from invoking Pulkesin II to King Harshvardhan, from granting minority status to Lingayats to high profile rallies and colorful alliances. The stage is all decked up for the elections and with 40 star campaigners including PM Modi, the BJP is quite hopeful of its win. As says the party president Amit Shah that Karnataka is the gateway to South. Also it being among the 3 states that are going to have elections before 2019 general elections, the only state in south where BJP ever had been with a majority, importance of Karnataka increases manifolds for BJP. However the corruption charges on the then CM BS Yeddurappa made the party fall drastically in 2013. On the face of it the Modi popularity seems to be dominating the scene in 2019 elections but for states like Karnataka and Rajasthan there are some challenges which the BJP has to face inevitably. Let us journey through the recent and some old blocks which can jeopardize the dreams of BJP’s clean sweep in Karnataka election.
1. The Cauvery River water dispute:
The latest verdict of Supreme Court reducing the share of water to Tamil Nadu and decided for Karnataka to get 14.75TMC additional water is though a welcome step for the farmers and Karnataka’s people as it will ease Bengaluru’s drinking water problem but what effect it will have on the dynamics of elections is still to see. However, the verdict seems to have a positive inclination towards congress and the Siddharamiah government, as BJP has been in a fix while deciding to constitute Cauvery management board and very neutral in leadership assertion regarding either Karnataka or Tamil Nadu for that matter. This neutrality can be seen by people of Karnataka as opportunistic and passive on the part of BJP. On the other hand chief minister Siddharamiah has been vocal in his criticism and denial of earlier Supreme Court verdicts and had been vocally adamant for securing the water rights of people of Karnataka.
Agrarian distress and farmer suicides are Karnataka’s major stress areas and the state employs more than half of its workforce in agriculture, hence the recent events revolving around the handling of Cauvery water dispute may have a compounded effect on BJP’s winning aspirations.
If the BJP wants an edge in Karnataka gaining the trust of the farmers becomes more or less imperative. Read out our detailed analysis on How Will Cauvery Verdict Impact Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018?
2. Linguistic assertiveness vis a vis nationalism:
BJP is associated majorly with saffronization and one single national agenda and is seen as a party with strong stance towards Hindi and sanskritization as has been reinforced by VHP, RSS motor mouths and some executive orders of making Sanskrit a compulsory language in school curriculum, demands of marking metro symbols in Hindi. Whereas the Kannads are very proud of their culture and language. They are vociferously adamant regarding their language and culture, the clamoring for separate state flag indicates towards the difference between the very ideology of Modi led BJP and people of Karnataka. The individuality of the Kannadiga is a very important aspect of this election as whoever is able to preserve that or able to portray the image of preserving that gets an edge in this election. As we have talked about the wide spread image of BJP, this becomes yet another challenge to consolidate its hold in the southern states including Karnataka.
3. Radical approach by fanatic elements:
BJP regime has been marred by allegations of religious fanaticism and majoritarian outlook with a seeming disrespect to minority voices and suppression of free speech and dissenting rationalist voice like Gauri Lankesh who once slained did not receive a condolence mention by the PM. Such events when compounded by the links BJP has with RSS and VHP makes it even trickier for the party to create a niche for itself in Karnataka. But we remain open to all sides and the view that Modi’s popularity though apparently fading but still strong enough to allay fears from people’s mind and beat different alliances.
4. Lingayat as a New Religion:
The rural voters in Karnataka are still more likely to vote on lines of caste and religion. The Lingayat vote bank , a traditional BJP stronghold fracturing and weakening in the wake of the recent minority status to Lingayats by the state government. The congress led by the chief minister Siddharamiah has very well played its card of minority appeasement which has, as history proves worked in many an election. In fact the Lingayat issue can pose one of the greatest threats to BJP’s win as Lingayats have an influence on approximately 100 seats in 224 member legislative assembly and a stronghold in the northern Karnataka. Read out our detailed analysis on Will Lingayat As A New Religion Lead Congress To A Victory In Karnataka?
Also, don’t forget to participate in our Karnataka opinion poll and let us know who do you think will win the Karnataka Elections 2018?