It's advantage BJP in Karnataka over Congress-JD-S
Riding on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the "achievements" of the NDA government, the BJP is upbeat on winning more seats than the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) combine in Karnataka in the 2019 general elections.
Polling for the 28 parliamentary seats in the southern state will be held in two phases on April 18 and April 23, with 14 seats in each phase. Five seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and two for the Scheduled Tribes (STs)
The vote count in all the constituencies is on May 23.
"We are in a strong position to win at least 20 seats across the state this time, as majority of the people want Modi to continue as Prime Minister for the stability, growth and development the NDA government provided during the past 5 years," BJP state unit spokesman Vamanacharya told IANS.
As a gateway to south India, Karnataka has been a harbinger of the right-wing party over the last 15 years and consolidated its presence in the coastal, northern and central regions of the across state, besides Bengaluru.
After suffering a humiliating defeat in the May 2013 assembly elections due to a split, the party bounced back in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, winning 17 seats against 9 by the Congress and 2 by the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
Maintaining the momentum, the party won 104 of the 224 seats in the May 2018 assembly elections. But its government bowed out after 3 days on May 19, as it fell nine seats short of the halfway mark (113) for a simple majority in the lower house.
The Congress had won 80 seats and the JD-S 36 in the house. As it lost the mandate at the hustings, the Congress entered into a post-poll alliance with the JD-S and formed a coalition government on May 23 after contesting against each other in the May 12 state elections.
"Our seat-sharing has been decided on winnability and to prevent division of votes. We are confident of getting more on the basis of performance of our 9-month-old coalition government in the state," state Congress spokesman K.E. Radhakrishna told IANS.
Unfazed by the prospects of facing joint candidates, the BJP is betting on the "lack of chemistry" between their cadres of the Congress and JD-S at the booth level and dearth of cadres in many constituencies across the state to woo the voters.
Though the allies agreed to contest in the ratio of 20-8 seats, the JD-S gifted one more seat (Bangalore North) to the Congress, as it has no winnable candidate and lacks cadres and resources to take on the BJP's outgoing member and Union Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda from the constituency.
"After much bravado, the JD-S agreed to contest from only 7 seats than 12 or 10 it had hard bargained for earlier with the Congress. It has fielded Pramod Madhwaraj, a former Congress minister, from Udupi against our sitting MP Shobha Karandlaje," Vamanacharya pointed out.
The Congress gave tickets to 8 of the nine outgoing members, denying re-nomination to its Tumkur member S.P. Muddahanumegowda, as JD-S supremo H.D. Deve Gowda opted to contest from there after fielding his other grandson, Prajwal, from his traditional Hassan seat.
With the old Mysore region being a stronghold of the JD-S over the years, the regional outfit is contesting in four of the 14 seats in the first phase and in three in the second phase.
To retain the Mandya seat, the JD-S fielded Nikhil, grand son of Deve Gowda and son of state Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, against multi-lingual south Indian actress Sumalatha Ambareesh, contesting as an Independent with the support of the BJP.
Karnataka is also the only southern state where the BJP came to power on its own in May 2008 after sharing power with the JD-S in 2006-07 in the state's first coalition government.
"We don't have to or want to make the recent surgical air strike in Pakistan an issue to seek votes. The achievements of the BJP-led government and Modi's strong leadership are enough for the people to repose faith in our party," Vamanacharya explained.
The BJP is also hoping to capitalise on the sympathy its traditional voters have for being denied an opportunity to form the government in the state by the Congress-JD-S, which formed a post-poll alliance to keep it out of power.
On the other hand, the Congress and the JD-S, are fielding joint candidates to win more seats than they had (11) separately in the 2014 general elections in straight contests.
After contesting against each other in the Lok Sabha and assembly elections over the last 30 years (since 1989-90), the warring parties came together when the May 2018 assembly elections threw up a hung house and formed the coalition government after the 3-day BJP government fell on May 19, 2018.
"As our joint vote share is more than the BJP, we are in a better position to win more seats this time than our rivals and perform better than last time," Radhakrishna explained.
In the 2014 general elections, the BJP's vote share was 43 per cent, while the Congress had 40.8 per cent and JD-S 11 per cent.
The combined vote share of the allies was 51.8 per cent.-IANS