KARNATAKA: The Mega campaigning for the Karnataka Assembly elections came to an end Monday night, preparing the ground for the massive election struggle on May 10.
The BJP, Congress, and JD(S), three of the major political parties in contention, as well as their candidates, have made a strong appeal in an effort to improve their chances at the hustings given the high stakes of this election. Over the past two days, every of the major political parties' top brass has been on a blitz of campaigning around the state.
The Congress aims to seize control to give the party the much-needed breathing room and momentum to position itself as the main opposition force in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, while the ruling BJP, riding on the Modi juggernaut, wants to break the 38-year-old jinx and retain its southern stronghold.
Also, the JD(S), led by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, was observed exerting all of its resources into the election campaign in an effort to establish itself as the "king" and not the "Kingmaker" and secure the necessary votes to form a government on its own. The BJP reported that its state leaders had held 231 public meetings and 48 road shows, compared to the national leaders' 206 public meetings and 90 road shows.
For the Congress, taking control away from the BJP would be a source of inspiration, the key to resurrecting its political prospects, and a way to solidify its position as the principal opponent to the BJP before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
By winning Karnataka, it also hopes to give its supporters some momentum as they prepare to take on the BJP's battle-ready electoral apparatus in the Hindi-speaking states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan later this year.
Given that the national head of the party is a Kannadiga Kharge from the Kalaburagi district, this election is also a prestige contest for the great old party. The party's goal is to secure 150 seats. The party's top state and central officials participated in 33 road shows and 99 public gatherings.
Will JD(S)'s fight for political survival in the 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections be successful, or will the local party once more play the deciding role, as it did in a hung vote in 2018? This time around, that is the topic of discussion in politics.
Gowda's son Kumaraswamy has in some ways led the JD(S) campaign throughout the state, with his ailing father taking a back seat. The JD(S) is beset by defections and internal strife and has the reputation of being a "family party".
Generally speaking, Kumaraswamy has centred his campaign on the five-part "Pancharatna" platform that the JD(S) wants to implement if it wins the election. It provides high-quality employment opportunities, housing, medical care, and services for farmers.
Although the 89-year-old Deve Gowda initially refrained from campaigning because of age-related ailments, he has been travelling and supporting JD(S) candidates in recent weeks, especially in the party stronghold of Old Mysuru region, where he has been making an emotional appeal and fending off attacks from the Congress and BJP.
Karnataka Poll Assembly seats and Key Constituencies: Shiggaon: Basavaraj Bommai, the current chief minister of Karnataka, is running from the Shiggaon district. Bommai has triumphed from this location three times in a row, in 2008, 2013, and 2018, respectively. With a margin of victory over Sayed Azeempeer Khadari of the Congress, Bommai won the seat in 2018.
Varuna: The Chamarajnagar district's Varuna constituency is under tight observation. The previous chief minister Siddaramaiah and his family have made the seat their home. In 2008 and 2013, the Congress leader defeated Varuna for the assembly seat, and in 2018, his son Yathindra triumphed.
Kanakapura: This Lok Sabha district is part of the Bengaluru (Rural) seat. It is the home territory of Vokkaliga powerhouse DK Shivakumar, president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). Since 2008, DK has won this electoral district. Shivakumar defeated Janata Dal (Secular) candidate Narayana Gowda in the 2018 election by a margin of 79909 votes.
Channapatna: This hotly contested political seat will see a fight between Gangadhar S of the Congress, CP Yogeshwar of the BJP, and JD(S) leader and twice-elected chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. Yogeshwara and Kumaraswamy both have connections to the film business and are members of the prominent Vokkaliga population in the area. By 21,530 votes, Kumaraswamy defeated Yogeshwara for this seat in 1998.
Shikaripura: Since the BJP entered the 1983 Karnataka Assembly election for the first time following its foundation, it has only lost twice there, making it the only Karnataka constituency where it has won continuously. BY Vijayendra, the son of BJP leader and former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, is running in the Shivamogga district of Shikaripura.
Ramanagara: Following his dismal political debut in 2019, Nikhil Kumaraswamy, the grandson of former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Deve Gowda, is testing the waters from Ramanagara. The 35-year-old Nikhil Kumaraswamy is up against Gowtham Gowda of the BJP and HA Iqbal Hussain of the Congress in the family stronghold of Gowda.
2023 elections in Karnataka- Voter base and demographics: The Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, which makes up the majority of the BJP's vote bank, is concentrated in the belt whereas the vote base of the Congress is evenly distributed across the state. Old Mysuru (southern Karnataka) is the Vokkaliga heartland, and JD(S) rules there. Lingayats make up roughly 17% of the population of Karnataka, followed by Vokkaligas at 15%, OBCs at 35%, SC/STs at 18%, Muslims at 12.92%, and Brahmins at 3%. To guarantee a total majority, the BJP has set a goal of at least 150 seats. It hopes to avoid a scenario similar to 2018, when despite winning the most votes, it initially fell short of forming government and ultimately had to rely on Congress and JD(S) MLA defections to create its administration.
The Lingayat community is politically powerful, and it is estimated that they hold a majority in roughly 100 seats. 54 Lingayat MLAs from different political parties, including 37 from the governing BJP, were members of the outgoing assembly. As many as 10 Lingayats have served as the state's 23 chief ministers since 1952.
Karnataka election: polling places, voter totals, and other information: There could be 58,282 voting places set up around the state. There are 883 voters on average each voting place. There will be 1,320 polling places overseen by female officials. Over 5.60 lakh people with disabilities have been discovered among the more than 5,24 crore voters.
History of elections in Karnataka: Since 1985, no political party in the state has won consecutive legislative elections. Ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections, it would be interesting to see if the ruling BJP breaks with a four-decade-old pattern to write history or if the Congress outdoes the saffron opponent and raises its stakes as a competitor.