BENGALURU: Around the time the assembly elections were announced, Siddaramaiah’s Congress looked quite formidable. The BJP, on the other hand, seemed like a party that was struggling to take on the government. However, in last few weeks things changed drastically and the BJP emerged as the single largest party while the grand old party ended up getting 78 seats.
Congress seemed to have lost the plot in the last minute when BJP went into campaigning with all guns blazing. It was not able to match BJP’s ‘carpet bombing’ strategy of deploying its national leaders across the state and targeting the Congress and its government as ‘anti-Hindu. The Siddaramaiah government’s decision to accord minority religion tag to Lingayats — which was initially seen as a masterstroke to dent BJP’s Lingayat vote bank — came in handy for BJP to aggressively target it as anti-Hindu.
Though Congress president Rahul Gandhi tried to blunt that attack by visiting a number of temples and religious institutions, it seems to have failed to limit the damage. This apart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intense campaigning — 21 rallies covering most of the districts — tilted the balance in favour of BJP and the Congress, which was depending heavily on one leader — Siddaramaiah — was not able to match that blitzkrieg.
“That worked for BJP by helping it garner votes of youngsters. Congress lost out on that front,” said political analyst Prof Harish Ramaswamy. Also, the CM’s decision to contest from two seats sent wrong signals to voters. It was seen as a move by the Congress leader looking for safe seat as he was not confident of winning on his home turf.