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Individual leaders call the shots in Karnataka
April 12, 2008 12:50 IST
May assembly polls in Karnataka are likely to be centered around the 'charisma' of individual leaders among the major political parties, making it a high-voltage campaign.
Though Congress, BJP and JD-S are harping that the elections would be fought under the collective leadership, each party has already propped up one of its prominent leaders as the star campaigner.
The Congress' campaign is virtually led by former chief minister S M Krishna, whom it believes has the capability to bring the party back to power in the southern state.
Congress asked Krishna, who occupied the gubernatorial post in Maharashtra to relinquish it and lead the party in the coming elections, hoping that his pro-urban face and clout among the cross section of electorate particularly in his own Vokkaliga community would work wonders for the party.
Congress leaders believe Krishna, sent out as Governor after the party's debacle in the 2004 elections, has the right qualities to upset the calculations of JD-S leader H D Deve Gowda as he hails from the Cauvery basin of Mandya District.
Krishna had led the Congress to a comfortable majority through his 'panchajanya' yatra in 1999, but his 'jana spandana' march in 2004 polls failed to evoke the same response leading to the party's defeat.
Krishna, named Chairman of the Election Management and Coordination Committees now, has said he had returned to 'complete an unfinished agenda'.
The Congress is equally banking upon the erstwhile JD-S strongman and former deputy chief minister Siddaramaiah to boost its chances.
The Congress is buoyed by the crossing over of Siddaramaiah, regarded as an influential leader of backward classes and the Kuraba community, in the state and appointed him as the chairman of the campaign committee. He quit the JDS in 2006 following sharp political differences with Gowda.
The AHINDA (a confederation of minorities, Dalits and backward classes) which Siddaramaiah led and continued to associate with was expected to come to his aid in the next month three-phase election.
Congress has a Dalit leader in M Mallikarjun Kharge as its state unit president to ensure that the votes of this community do not get divided.
The BJP, which has been dreaming of hoisting the saffron flag in this southern state, has pinned its hopes on former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, who is believed to have support from the Lingayat community.
Majority of the Lingayat community members are expected to back Yeddyurappa as they are apparently annoyed over the JDS' act of unceremonious toppling of his ministry a week after it assumed office.
Lingayat community has been the major source of support for BJP in the state over the years.
Karnataka is home for innumerable mutts of Lingayat community and Yeddyurappa had made it a point to visit most of them ahead of elections to plead for support.
BJP is also optimistic that certain 'pro-poor' and 'pro-people' schemes launched by its leader when he was the finance minister in the Kumarasamy Ministry would help the party to gain a comfortable majority.
For JDS, former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy has emerged as a star campaigner, replacing his father Deve Gowda.
His village-stays, the first of its kind initiative by a chief minister of the state, was a big success among people, as Kumaraswamy travelled through villages during night, heard their grievances and stayed at the residences of poor.
After failing to make a mark at the national level when he was in the BJP and elected twice to Lok Sabha from his home turf Shimoga, Bangarappa wants to return to the state through SP, which currently trying to expand its base in the state.
Bangarappa is making efforts to forge a poll-pact with JDS in the hope that they could emerge as key players in case of a fractured verdict.