Even as pre-poll surveys and senior Congress leaders indicate that the party has a strong chance to win the Assembly elections in Karnataka due next year, analysts say it is not going to be an easy road, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) highlighting the anti-incumbency factor in the state.
After facing defeat in a majority of states that have gone to polls since 2014, Karnataka is being seen as the strongest ground for Congress to retain its government. While Congress is selling its “pro-poor”, “pro-farmers schemes”, BJP is highlighting the lack of infrastructural development and high debt of the incumbent Congress government.
Analysing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s performance, K. Subramanya, a political analyst based in Karnataka, said that the Congress has not done any “outstanding” work in the state that will stay with the people in the long term and this makes it difficult to be certain that the Congress will win.
“There is a chance. But it does not look like a clear and easy win. The Parivarthana Yatra of BJP is starting to draw larger crowds now. There is anti-incumbency in the state,” said Subramanya.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, B.K. Hariprasad, Member of Parliament from Karnataka, said that the Siddaramaiah government has delivered in Karnataka.
Hariprasad said: “The rice subsidy, Indira Canteen, and milk subsidy have proven the state government’s socially inclusive schemes that are pro-poor. The government has brought pro-farmer programmes from which people have benefited; then why will there be anti-incumbency? These are not to be seen as populist measures. ”
The Karnataka government has also sanctioned a Bill to spend Rs 100 crore for mass communication and field publicity of the government’s schemes, using vinyl posters on government buses.
The BJP, however, argues that urbanisation has slowed down and the fiscal state of Karnataka has deteriorated under Congress. Tejaswi Surya, general secretary of the BJP Youth Wing, Karnataka, said, “Karnataka is reeling under the overburden of debts, with the present total debt of the state being Rs 105,584.23 crore as per the finance department. If you look at the loans availed by past governments since 1999, the Siddaramaiah government has financed the largest loans. But there has been no infrastructural development in the state; the state of our roads and cities has not improved to the extent our debt has increased.”
Hariprasad, however, said that Karnataka’s debt is lesser than that of Gujarat and that Karnataka is an ideal model for a state.