Bangalore: On the single-phase poll Sunday for the 14th Karnataka legislative assembly, national and regional political parties were vying for a clear mandate to rule the state but the Congress seemed to have an edge.
Political pundits were of the view that the main opposition Congress would win the largest number of seats and form the next government owing to the anti-incumbency factor and likely division of votes among its rivals in multi-cornered contests in 223 of the 224 assembly constituencies.
Though the assembly has 225 seats, including one nominated member from the Ango-Indian community, polling in the Periyapatna assembly segment in Mysore district has been countermanded following the death of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Sannamoge Gowda April 29 and rescheduled to May 28.
"In the absence of any wave and loss of sympathy that catapulted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power five years ago after its coalition partner Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) betrayed it in handing over power in October 2007, odds favour Congress due to anti-incumbency and people's dejection with the ruling BJP, which squandered the mandate by its failure to deliver and provide stable government due to infighting and multiple scams," political analyst Sandeep Shastri told IANS here.
As the mainstream parties - BJP, Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) - and the newly formed regional outfit Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) are contesting in almost all the 223 constituencies, wide split in votes among them on the strength of their respective candidates and factors like caste and local issues will determine the outcome.
Though the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also contesting from 175 seats across the state, the National Congress Party (NCP) in 24 and the Communist Party of India (CPI-M) in 17, presence of another regional outfit - BSR and hundreds of independents in the fray will narrow the victory margin in majority of constituencies.
Former BJP minister B. Sriramulu from Bellary in the northern mining district of Bellary recently floated the BSR (Badavara Shramikara Raithara) in the name of the poor, workers and farmers.
Besides anti-incumbency and lack of leadership, the BJP is faced with a vertical spilt in its cadre base, which is divided between it's candidates and that of KJP, led by its former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was forced to resign July 31, 2011 on graft charges in the multi-million mining scam. He left the party Nov 30 last year.
Involvement of the BJP's lawmakers and ministers in alleged rape, viewing porn film in the assembly during a session and in scores of land scams have dented its image as "a party with a difference".
Having three chief ministers, including D.V. Sadananda Gowda for 11 months (Aug 2011 to July 2012) and Jagadish Shettar since then during its reign in the southern state also did not go well with the people, as rebellion by dissident legislators and revolt by the Reddy brothers took a toll of the administration for several months in between.
With the KJP set cut into BJP's votes substantially, the JD-S has gone all out to consolidate its traditional vote bank among farmers and its politically-dominant Vokkaliga community, especially in the old Mysore region, which has 89 seats spread across 11 districts, including 28 in Bangalore city.
Though the JD-S had fared badly in the previous (2008) poll, when its tally slumped to 28, it has gained substantial ground since then due to the failure of the BJP in the state and the Congress-led UPA government at the national level.
"With the Cauvery river water crisis gripping the region due to the worst drought in the state and raw deal to farmers, the regional party is set to give a tough fight to the Congress even in central and northern parts of the state as its working president and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has been projecting as saviour of farmers, poor and the rural folk from the twin national parties," Shastri observed.