BENGALURU: Public campaigning in one of the most intensely fought state elections ended on Thursday and the national leaders, who raised the pitch to a new high left the state by Thursday evening. Candidates will now be busy with door-to-door canvassing ahead of voting on May 12. In last few weeks, BJP and the Congress leaders engaged in war of words during the campaign that included 21 rallies addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Congress president Rahul Gandhi too was in Karnataka almost every other day, taking part in roadshows in different parts of the state. While the BJP got support from its national leaders, Siddaramaiah and team seem to have tried their best to match BJP’s blitzkrieg on every front.
“It has become an extension of Gujarat polls and two parties are contesting as if victory is theirs. Unfortunately, political language has become very indecent and has reached a point of no return. We may see more of it in 2019 elections too,” political analyst Prof Muzzafar Assadi told The New Indian Express. “PM addressing 21 rallies in a state election is a new thing in Karnataka. National leaders with good image tried to convert it into votes, while the local leadership was completely sidelined,” he said.
Campaigning was not only intense, but also negative, said political analyst Prof Harish Ramaswamy. “It looks like the election has become an issue of personal prestige for leaders. Campaigning has become very personal and negative,” said Ramaswamy. In most rallies, the PM launched a scathing attack on Congress leaders, which, in turn, resorted to similar strategy. “There was very negative campaigning from all three sides. However, the Kannadiga voter is a very discerning person and does not really get influenced by negativism,” political analyst Prof Sandeep Shastri. “Choice of candidate is going to be an important factor as a lot of voters are looking at who is the candidate.”
At end of the intense campaigning, both parties seem to be confident of getting the numbers required to form the government on their own. The BJP hopes that the Modi factor will help tilt the balance in its favour while the Congress that focused its strategy on Siddaramaiah government’s performance, is banking on the fact that “there is no anti-incumbency” factor against the state government. JD (S) was not able to match the national parties in terms of high-voltage campaigning, but it seem to be holding on to its stronghold of old Mysore region.
Prof Ramaswamy said Modi’s sustained campaign may help BJP improve its performance and the Congress will now be reworking on its strategy.