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Congress eager to pluck the Lotus in Karnataka

Last updated on: March 13, 2013 01:14 IST

As Karnataka poll nears, Congress eager to pluck the Lotus

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Sunita Moga

Election Commission of India is set to announce the poll schedule for Karnataka next week. While the Congress is hoping to regain some of its credibility, the BJP already seems to have resigned to its fate. Sunita Moga reports

Although due in May, the Karnataka assembly election may be held earlier as the Election Commission of  India is likely to announce the poll schedule next week.

According to United Progressive Alliance sources, several Karnataka leaders have informally suggested that the polls be brought forward by a month as it later gets very hot for campaigning.

Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, who is presently out of town, is expected to make a formal announcement next week.

The Congress is particularly keen to get going with the election, as it senses a victory for the party after a string of defeats over the past year. The Congress is hoping to take advantage of the split in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to stage a comeback in the southern state. A good showing in the upcoming elections will be a great morale booster for the Congress, which is facing strong anti-incumbency at the national level.



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As Karnataka poll nears, Congress eager to pluck the Lotus

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Weighed down under charges of corruption and criticised for poor governance and spiralling prices, the Congress has lost the support of the vocal urban middle class which backed it in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

If the Congress is able to form the next government in Karnataka, it will be able to demonstrate that it has not been shunned completely by the urban middle class which, it believes, could alter the national mood in its favour.

The Congress is encouraged by its impressive performance in the elections to urban local bodies in the state, the results for which were announced on Monday. These polls were regarded as a semi-final for all the political parties before the major battle for the state.

The Congress believes the outcome of this election is a clear pointer to the mood of the people and a precursor to the coming elections. The Congress won 1,960 wards while the BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular) emerged victorious in 906 wards each.

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As Karnataka poll nears, Congress eager to pluck the Lotus

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The humiliating defeat suffered by the ruling BJP was primarily on account of  its former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, who played spoilsport.

Yeddyurappa's party -- the Karnataka Janatha Paksha -- did not make impressive gains but his party did hurt the BJP.

The BJP, on the other hand, has resigned itself to losing power in the only southern state where it was able to form the government, admitting that Yeddyurappa's decision to part ways with it was responsible for this "alarming" result.

"We have to pay the price for our internal squabbles and the rampant corruption in the state," remarked a senior BJP leader.

With the outcome of the local body election staring it in the face, the BJP is unlikely to field Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its star campaigner in these elections. If Modi campaigns extensively in
Karnataka and the party loses -- as it is expected to -- the result will be seen as referendum on the Gujarat strongman's charisma and vote getting capabilities. Modi would rather save himself for a bigger battle.



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