Siddaramaiah leads the electoral battle while RAGA meets senoir pontiffs

TNN Bureau. Updated: 4/11/2018 11:30:15 AM Most Popular

By all accounts, the contest in Karnataka is still wide open. It can go either way. If in the Assembly poll in Punjab last year, Captain Amarinder Singh had called the shots, virtually marginalising the Congress high command, in Karnataka, Siddaramaiah is in control, with Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders reduced to playing secondary roles.

The reversal of roles between the state and Central leadership might make for a healthy inner party democracy, but it also underlines the diminished pulling power of the first family of the Grand Old Party. It no longer occupies the pole position in the polity and might not do so for a long time to come. In fact, despite Rahul’s energetic forays into Karnataka, what with him paying well publicised obeisance before one Mutt head or the other, he fails to enthuse the voters. The other day he was in Shimoga, a major city in central Karnataka, drawing such poor crowds that he lost his cool, rebuking the party functionaries for not doing enough to line up the people. Rising summer temperatures was dismissed as a poor excuse, though no party leader had the courage to tell him that he lacked the charisma to attract people.

In sharp contrast to Siddaramaiah, the rival chief ministerial candidate, B.S. Yeddyurappa, is seen to be only the first among equals in the BJP state unit. With Amit Shah and the RSS-BJP election machine in full swing, Yeddyurappa ties up the loose ends, manages ground-level operations, and provides valuable inputs about caste and community conformities and contradictions. He undoubtedly remains the chief ministerial candidate, but the poll effort is being led by Shah. And, unlike the Congress’ high command, the BJP has a winning mascot in the Prime Minister. Once Narendra Modi throws himself fulltime into the campaign, the BJP expects to tilt the scales from 50:50 currently to 70:30 in its favour, especially when Rahul cannot bail out Siddaramaiah. Meanwhile, interesting battles are in store.

It seems the former Prime Minister and head of the JDS, H.D. Deve Gowda, the self-confessed humble farmer, might challenge his protégé-turned-turncoat Siddaramaiah, while Yeddyurappa’s son, B.Y. Vijayendra, is likely to contest against Siddaramaiah’s son, Yathindra. An understanding between the BJP and the JDS to humiliate Siddaramaiah cannot be ruled out, though elsewhere it might well be a three-cornered fight.

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