As political parties, including key players BJP, Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) gear up for the May 10 Assembly elections in Karnataka, the following issues are expected to be among the top campaign material.
1. Corruption: The recent arrest of BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa and his son in a bribery case has put the ruling BJP on a backfoot. The Congress has made corruption a central theme of its campaign, pointing to various ”scams” and 40 per cent commission charge by a contractors’ body. The BJP has sought to counter the narrative by highlighting alleged graft during previous Congress regimes both at the Centre and the State, especially alleged denotification scam by Siddaramaiah govt.
2. Reservation: The government’s decision on scrap the 4 per cent reservation for Muslims under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota, and distributing it equally among the dominant Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities, while placing Muslims under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category, and introduction of internal reservation for different Dalit communities under Scheduled Caste (SC) category are bound to raise tempers on the poll scene.
3. Development: The BJP will seek to focus on various development projects and social welfare initiatives taken up by the Modi government, while the Congress and JD(S) will showcase their track record when they were in power.
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4. Price rise: The Congress and the JD(S) will make it a key issue, particularly the ”high” cooking gas and fuel prices. The BJP will bank on the government’s management of the Covid pandemic, economic strides under the Modi government and how a rising India has become the world’s fifth largest economy.
5. Election Promises: The pros and cons of election promises made by the ruling BJP, the Congress and JD (S) will come under close scrutiny. The BJP has already alleged that the Congress does not honour its poll promises, while the latter is likely to attack the ruling party alleging lack of sufficient job creation in the country.
6. Clear mandate: All three key political parties — BJP, Congress and JD(S) — will harp on the need to have a clear mandate, and put a stop to a trend of ”fractured verdict” in the last couple of elections.
7. Caste politics: Parties will go out of their way to win over various castes, and consolidating their votebase will be among the key agendas of the contending parties. While BJP is focusing on getting Vokkaliga support in the old Mysuru region, Congress wants to better its tally in Lingayat dominated constituencies.
8. Communalism and minority appeasement politics: The Congress has accused the BJP of raking up divisive issues with an eye on the elections like Hijab, Halal, Azan and Tipu Sultan, while the BJP has charged the Congress with indulging in minority appeasement politics. The slugfest between the two parties is likely to intensify during campaigning.
9. Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi factors: The Congress will target the Prime Minister on various issues like Adani row, democracy, free speech, and authoritarianism. The BJP for its part will attack Rahul Gandhi for his alleged anti India remarks on the foreign soil, his comments against Hindutva icon VD Savarkar while targeting the ruling party, among others.
10. Dynasty politics: The BJP is expected to target the Congress and the JD(S) on dynasty politics