Parties are in poll mode in Karnataka

BANGALORE: The Congress, leading the central government, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ruling Karnataka for the first time, have found a common tune - early elections. The BJP fe

Published: 22nd January 2012 12:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:19 PM   |  A+A-

BANGALORE: The Congress, leading the central government, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ruling Karnataka for the first time, have found a common tune - early elections.

The BJP feels that India is headed for a Lok Sabha battle this year, two years ahead of schedule, as the United Progressive Alliance led by the Congress is battered by corruption scandals.

The Congress in Karnataka insists that the state is already in election made, a year ahead of schedule, as the BJP is not only submerged in scams but is also a deeply divided house heading for a possible split.

It is not just the Congress in Karnataka that talks of early polls. The third major political force, the Janata Dal-Secular, is also getting ready for the battle.

The Congress and JD-S leaders have begun touring the state, holding meetings to enthuse their supporters and promising to name candidates in two to three months.

"The developments indicate that elections in 2012 are inevitable," state Congress president G. Parameshwara says.

He says the party has begun the exercise to identify candidates for 150 of the 224 elected seats in the assembly. Their names will be announced by March-end.

The assembly has a nominated member from the small Anglo-Indian community.

The Congress, which now has 71 legislators, is concentrating on 150 constituencies where its winning prospects are bright, Parameshwara says.

JD-S state president and former chief minister H. D. Kumaraswamy too expects early polls as, he says, factions within BJP were working to bring down the government headed by D.V. Sadananda Gowda.

The JD-S, headed by Kumaraswamy's father and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, is too holding meetings of activists to be ready for possible early polls. The JD-S has just 26 legislators now.

The BJP's 120 members include the speaker. There are seven independents.

Sadananda Gowda, who succeeded scam-hit B.S. Yeddyurappa Aug 4 last year, however, claims there is no threat to his ministry.

But he is unusually frank for a politician as he publicly acknowledges that are "minor problems and some confusion" in the state BJP.

The "problems and confusion" have arisen following Yeddyurappa's unconcealed attempts to be the chief minister again or be officially seen as the state party's undisputed leader.

Attempts by RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), the BJP's political mentor, to rein in Yeddyurappa and his supporters have failed.

Early this month state RSS functionaries met Sadananda Gowda, Yeddyurappa and state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa.

The three leaders proclaimed that all differences have been sorted out and they would tour the state together soon.

But Yeddyurappa has outsmarted the RSS and the party central leadership.

He has asked his loyalists to organise public meetings where he is the star attraction.

His justification for such meetings gives his game away - make the BJP and RSS bow to him.

At these meetings his loyalists make clear their intentions - Yeddyurappa should be made chief minister again or given a "suitable post".

Gowda and Eshwarappa bravely try to play down the race to be the boss of the state unit. "These are not party meetings," Eshwarappa explains.

Given these unabashed games in the BJP, the Congress and JD-S have no choice but to be battle ready.

The fear is the next elections may throw up a fractured verdict as BJP's image has taken a severe beating from corruption scandals and infighting. The Congress lacks a mass leader and JD-S is struggling to remain a force.

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