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Tough fights in the offing

Tough fights in the offing
After a bitter campaign, the Karnataka witnessed a high percentage of voter turnout in the May 12 Assembly election. This indicates that the intense campaigning by all the three important political parties has had an impact. The political parties have been able to mobilise their cadres to reach out to the voters and ensure that they come out in large numbers and exercise their franchise. After the election, major media outlets have released the exit polls results, which indicate that the state is headed for a hung Assembly where none of the parties will have the majority on their own. Though some of the exit polls have suggested that both BJP and Congress may win seats close to the majority mark, few of these exit polls have given a clear mandate to any of the parties. This brings the third political party JD(S) in the picture, whose support may be inevitable to form the government in the state. Throughout the election process, this possibility loomed large on the scene but both BJP and Congress were in denial that they would take the support of the JD(S) to form the government in the state. For the Congress, retaining power in the state is crucial as Karnataka happens to be the second big state after Punjab where the party is in power. If it is not able to form the government in the state, it would mean that the party is out of power in all the big states except Punjab. For BJP, forming a government in the state is important because it is the only state in Southern India where the party is close to forming a government. Once in power in Karnataka, it intends to intensify its efforts to win Assembly elections in rest of the Southern states. It is because of these reasons that Karnataka is crucial in the game plan of both Congress and BJP.
Meanwhile, incumbent Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa have both predicted a poll victory for their respective parties. Siddaramaih has termed the exit polls a weekend entertainment and Yeddyurappa has claimed that BJP will nearly 130 seats in the state. As the exit polls suggest that none of the two parties may manage to win the majority on their own, both Congress and BJP will have to seek the support of the third major political force in the state. Though JD(S) has been maintaining that it will win a majority on its own, it will have to reconcile to the election results when it comes on May 15. It will have to choose between Congress and BJP and decide to which party it lends its support in the aftermath of the election results. The party has already made its stand clear in the run-up to the polls that instead of being a kingmaker, it aims to be the king himself. It is expected to bargain hard for its support. Son of JD(S) chief Deve Gowda and state party chief H D Kumaraswamy may demand ministerial births for his party MLAs and a Deputy Chief Minister's post for himself. During the election campaign, Congress had accused of a tacit understanding between JD(S) and BJP. Congress also accused that Kumaraswamy and BJP President Amit Shah had held a secret meeting at the New Delhi airport in the initial phases of the election campaign. Congress, too, seems to have some understanding with JD(S) as it has its Mayor in Bengaluru with the support of JD(S). Now, it is worth watching out which way the JD(S) goes.
After the government formation in the state is over, both Congress and BJP will divert their focus to the impending Assembly elections in the three BJP-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. In the recent by-elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Congress candidates have won, indicating that these BJP-ruled states may be suffering from an anti-incumbency. The Assembly elections will test BJP's control over these large states. Whoever wins the Karnataka election or forms the government in the state will have a psychological advantage. After the Assembly elections in these states, the general elections will be approaching. And, the nation will once again decide whether it wants to give Narendra Modi another chance as the Prime Minister of the country or elect a new leader for the post. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has already affirmed his candidature for the top-post. Even other opposition parties are getting their acts together to oust Modi from the post of Prime Minister in 2019 election. So, there are tough political fights in the offing; Karnataka election is just the beginning.

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