Modi guarantees vs Siddaramaiah’s schemes in battleground Karnataka | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Modi guarantees vs Siddaramaiah’s schemes in battleground Karnataka

By, Tumkuru/ Bengaluru
Apr 23, 2024 07:41 AM IST

Last time, the BJP won 25 of the state’s 28 seats, and supported an independent in the 26th (she won).

On one side is a strong alliance of BJP and JD(S) that, arithmetically speaking, has 49% of the popular votes as per their performance in the 2023 assembly elections. On the other, stands the Congress that won the Karnataka state polls with a record 135 seats, more than any party in the last 35 years.

Chief minister Siddaramaiah with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi.(PTI)
Chief minister Siddaramaiah with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi.(PTI)

The young alliance of the BJP-JD(S) is banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma, his “guarantees” (as listed in the BJP manifesto) and their combined vote share to sweep Karnataka in the Lok Sabha elections. Follow full coverage of the Lok Sabha elections here.

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Last time, the BJP won 25 of the state’s 28 seats, and supported an independent in the 26th (she won).

This time, the BJP and the JD(S), which struck an alliance in January, is not leaving anything to chance, and its campaign themes revolve around welfare, nationalism, development, and Modi. But the two parties also need to ensure a critical part of their pact: the transfer of JD(S )votes to the BJP and vice versa.

Virupakshapa , the general secretary of the city unit of the BJP (and who uses only one name), said: “In our campaigns, we compare between India and Pakistan. We tell voters how India is economically stronger that Sri Lanka and Pakistan. We also talk of nationalism, Hinduism, how Modi constructed the Ram Temple, and how Kashi is redeveloped.”

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The Congress is banking on its chief minister, the popular Siddaramaiah. The chief minister’s capability to revive the AHINDA vote bank of minorities, backward classes and Dalits will be crucial, according to several Congress leaders in the state. His implementation of popular welfare programmes, including cash sops for young people and poor women, is also expected to help the party.

Campaigning in a Scheduled Caste (SC)-dominated village in the outskirts of Tumkur city, Congress state vice president Muralidhar Halappa pointed to the industrial parks inaugurated by Modi in Tumkur. “Go and see the food processing park and Japanese tech park. You will only see the signboards. Modi’s promises are empty promises. On the other hand, Siddaramaiah has delivered.”

But even Halappa acknowledges the elephant in the room – the JD(S)’s considerable and historical support in this region.

“JD(S_ has committed workers — we need to face this challenge in old Mysuru area. We are trying to show thatthe BJP-JD(S) is not a healthy alliance. We are showing what the BJP and JD(S) said about each other in the past.”

If the Congress can take cheer from anything, it is that the JD(S) touted strength in the region amounted to nothing in 2019. “This time, we should get around 10 seats,” said a top-ranking senior Congress leader.

In the 2019 national elections, the Congress and the JD(S), then part of the coalition ruling the state, fought together – but did poorly. The Congress won only one of the 21 seats it contested; the JD(S) one of seven. Together, the two parties had a vote share of around 42%, almost full 10 percentage points behind the BJP.

But the elections even in the region are not being fought in the name of JD(S) supremo and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda. Narendra Modi is the tallest figure in this election, even in this corner of the state.

A tea stall owner or a retired government employee near the famous Siddaganga Mutt complex voices support for Modi at one of the most important Lingayat mutts in Karnataka.

Near the Shivakumar Swamiji circle, at the entrance of a well-decorated BJP office stands a huge a cut out of Modi and Bharat Mata — underlining the key planks of the country’s largest party in this part of the country.

Virupakshapa said, “People, especially young voters, are interested in what Modi ji is saying. People are saying, ‘state ke liye Siddaramaiah, desh ke liye Modi’. We will win because we have Modi. Modi’s guarantee is security of the country.”

Tumkur, an hour’s drive from Bengaluru, is one of the hotly-contested seats with the Congress’s S P Muddahanumegowda taking on the BJP-JD(S) alliance’s V Somanna. Of the eight MLAs in this Lok Sabha seat, four belongs to the Congress and two each from BJP and JD(S). State home minister and heavyweight Congress leader G Parameshwara is a local MLA.

Some welfare schemes such as the Gruha Lakshmi scheme that gives 2,000 to the woman head of poor families have garnered goodwill for the Congress. The politics of guarantees, first seen in the Assam assembly polls, became a raging success in Karnataka for the Congress, encouraging the party to come up with bigger guarantees in the national polls. Even Virupakshapa admits, “A section of the voters are happy with the chief minister’s implementation of the scheme. They don’t realise that all the funds are spent on these schemes and no development work is happening.”

But the caste dynamics is possibly tilted in the BJP and the JD(S)’s favour in the southern part of the state that has 10 seats. The old Mysuru belt and the adjoining areas are traditional strongholds of the JD(S). T R Nagaraj, JD(S) working president in Tumkur district, argues that voters are angry with the Congress. “Last time, the Congress cheated us and our tallest leader (former PM) HD Deve Gowda ji got defeated. We are telling people that Siddaramaiah’s guarantees will stop after June 4.”

BJP’s Tumkur city president R Paramesh emphasises on the alliance factor: “In southern Karnataka, we are strong. We have now two-third votes in Tumkur. But our biggest asset is ‘Modi ka guarantee’. People like his administration and they are aware of the difference between the state and the national elections. The battle will be Modi’s guarantee versus the Congress’s schemes. I have no doubt people will vote en masse vote for Modi.”

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