The Congress is trying to project a united front and exploit the fault lines in the ruling BJP.

 

The Congress is trying to project a united front in Karnataka and effectively exploit the fault lines within the ruling BJP while keeping an eye on the 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections. The division in the BJP and its wafer-thin majority has emboldened the Congress in the state.

Both the top leaders of the state Congress, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief D.K. Shivakumar and former chief minister and leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Siddaramaiah, are putting up a united show to strengthen the party organization and corner the ruling dispensation in the state.

It is interesting to note that Karnataka is the state where the BJP has not been able to surpass the Congress vote share till now. In the 2018 Assembly election, despite the BJP emerging as the single largest party with 104 seats in the Assembly of 224, the Congress got 1.8% more votes than the saffron party. In the 2018 Assembly election, the Congress had got 80 seats, while the Janata Dal (Secular) led by H.D. Kumaraswamy won 37 seats. The 2018 Assembly elections in the state resulted in a hung assembly. Even in the 2008 Assembly elections, where the BJP got a majority on its own, the Congress had got more votes.

R.M.N. Hegde, a Bengaluru-based political analyst, said, :“In Karnataka, the Congress is able to effectively challenge the ruling BJP compared to other states where it is in direct contest with the saffron party like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttrakhand or Himachal Pradesh, because the rival factions led by former chief minister and leader of opposition in the state assembly S. Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief D.K. Shivakumar have tried to bury their differences as of now and are getting united on all issues.

In the last six months, the Congress had unsettled the government on many issues. The saffron party is facing its own internal contradiction and that has emboldened the Congress. In the session of the legislative Assembly, the Congress MLAs had cornered the government.

Moreover, the factionalism in the BJP is harming it big time and giving the Congress all the opportunity and it would be the natural beneficiary.

This week many Congress leaders from the dominant Vokkaliga group had a meeting where they decided the 2023 plans among the powerful Vokkaligas. In recent years, Vokkaligas have started shifting allegiance from the JD(S) and with chief D.K. Shivakumar at the helm in the state Congress, the Congress is sensing an opportunity to get more seats in the Vokkaliga belt and cut the JD(S) to size. Many prominent leaders of the JD(S) like Member of Legislative Assembly K. Srinivas Gowda may join the Congress. This might help the party in the bastion of JD(S). Congress leaders are confident that they have a very good chance in the coming times.

M.B. Patil, a senior Congress leader and Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), said: “We are well prepared for the upcoming Assembly election. We are organizing meetings with leaders of the different communities in the state. During the first Covid wave, the Congress promised to bear the cost of migrant workers tickets back home; likewise, we had announced that KPCC would try to get Rs 100 crore to vaccinate the state’s population for free. This all had unsettled the BJP. Our clear strategy is that the Pradesh Congress Committee will hit the streets for people’s issues and our 70-odd MLAs will corner the government in the Assembly. We hope that it will give us desired results in the 2023 Assembly elections.”