Recent polls have suggested that Congress should prove comfortable victors in the Karnataka Assembly election – which is around eight months away. This is something that will not surprise anyone who has taken note of politics in this region of the world over the last couple of decades – with the state tending to elect an alternate party to what the national election concludes with.
Why are the polls suggesting a comfortable victory for Congress?
It would be fair to say that there have been some strategic decisions made by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah over recent times.
With the build-up to the election starting to intensify, Congress has started to resolve a lot of issues that have blighted public opinion. For example, for more than a decade the Lingayats have been demanding a separate religion. Despite their long-term clamours, it is only now that Siddaramaiah has officially announced the religion – coincidently just months before the election takes place.
Elsewhere, there is severe hunger in a lot of the poorer cities of the region. Naturally, this hunger hasn’t occurred overnight – it’s something else that has occurred over the long-term. Nevertheless, it’s only in the last month or so that he has started to open Indira Canteens that are offering breakfast at Rs five, and other meals at Rs 10 to resolve the issue.
The examples don’t stop there either. The roads in Bengaluru have had potholes all over them for years – with some being the size of a typical swimming pools. When this is combined with immense amounts of garbage – it’s not a pretty, or safe, sight. Again, it’s only now that the authorities have taken action. The timing seems suspicious to say the least.
Such moves have not gone unnoticed by the local people. Interviews in the area have revealed that people realize that the elections are just months away – and actions such as the above have been timed accordingly. It means that a landslide victory is by no means predicted for Congress, even if the polls are suggesting that the voters are on their side for the time being.
The timeline of elections in Karnataka
Something that has proved to be common over time is the people of Karnataka opting to vote for a different party in the state to the one that rules the Centre. This could be another one of the reasons why so many people are predicting a victory for Congress, it’s exceptionally rare for the same party to prosper in both elections. Let’s take a look at some of the key elections over time to highlight this point.
- 1989 – The Bofors scandal allowed Janata Dal to become the ruling party, with VP Singh becoming the National Front Prime Minister for Lok Sabha. In Karnataka meanwhile, Congress was to prevail, as they won 27 of the 28 seats available. This meant that just one seat was left to the Janata Dal. In the state, Congress went to power – taking a huge majority of 178 of the 224 seats and replacing a Janata Dal government.
- 1994 – Congress held onto their power at the Centre in 1994, but it was a different story for the Assembly elections in Karnataka. It was here where a Janata Dal government returned, with HD Deve Gowda being the man fronting the party. Something else that was interesting about this result was that Congress fell to the third party – being replaced by the BJP.
- 1999 – Five years later the Lok Sabha elections saw the NDA win a majority. However, back in Karnataka, Congress took 18 of the 28 seats, while they also took 132 of the 224 assembly seats.
- 2004 – This was a slightly different year, as this was the period where the UPDA formed its first government in the Lok Sabho elections. However, back in Karnataka, the BJP achieved more seats than it had ever achieved before by securing 18 of them. If we turn to the state Assembly elections, the BJP prospered again and secured 78 seats, but this didn’t prevent Congress from forming a government along with the Janata Dal party.