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Election Share

Karnataka verdict may shift focus yet again on Federal Front

Bengaluru, May 12 (UNI) Some anxious moments if not nervousness is apparent in the ranks of two national parties- the BJP and the Congress, as the voting for a crucial state Assembly election in Congress-ruled Karnataka took place on Saturday.
The elections in Karnataka in more ways than one is seen as a stepping stone for the 2019 Parliamentary polls.
But amid the high stakes involved for both the BJP and the Congress, all eyes are also on the possibility of a good show by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
A spectacular performance of winning on its own would be truly a miracle for the fledgling regional outfit (JD-S) that was once the part of a mammoth Janata (read socialists) Parivar.
According to analysts and also political satraps - even if JD(S) can emerge a kingmaker and emerge a key player in the corridors of power in Karnataka, it could give a massive boost to the efforts being made by regional parties to satraps to cobble together a 'federal front'.
The Janata Dal (Secular) which had been a kingmaker in the past is in the fray in 199 constituencies with its alliance partner Bahujan Samaj Party contesting for 18 seats.
While the verdict in Karnataka will be also seen as popularity test of Modi government's crusade against corruption and its policies based on its 'ideology' of building a India that is inclined towards the 'nationalist philosophies' of the right wing RSS, for others the mandate will be crucial for liberal, progressive and compassionate politics.
A key proponent of 'federal front' politics and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has already started speaking on these lines.
“Prediction is that the Congress and BJP would remain close and Deve Gowda would be a determining factor. But Deve Gowda's son (H D Kumaraswamy) may become the Chief Minister while I think Congress should not have angered Deve Gowda so much," she told a television channel in Kolkata on Friday.
Others have also started talking about the permutations and combinations involved in establishing a credible front to fight the BJP-led NDA.
"It is true most surveys - some sponsored - have found Narendra Modi to be the most popular politician in the world’s most populous democracy. But a performing Chief Minister like Mamata Banerjee is not far behind. Mere favourable surveys cannot ensure Modi of another term in power and hence there is a need to think of an alternative," a key Trinamool leader told UNI over phone.
The Trinamool Congress has already tried to work out broad-based formula to stitch a formidable alliance with parties like Sharad Pawar-led NCP, K C Chandrasekhar Rao's Telangana Rashtriya Samithi and even a NDA constituent Shiv Sena. In fact both Ms Banerjee and Mr Rao had contacted Mr Deve Gowda and sought him to lead the Federal
Front. While Ms Banerjee had spoken to him over telephone, Mr Rao had visited his house in the run up for the State elections and sought him to take up a leading role. Mr Devegowda however appeared to have indicated his age and had assured them that such a front would have his blessings. Mr Devegowda had stressed the need for a strong Regional Party in the state which, he felt, could alone raise up to the aspirations of the people of the State.
Others tend to agree that Prime Minister Modi's "aura of invincibility" was certainly hit by BJP's drop in seat share in Gujarat elections and now if things in Karnataka do not go in favour of Modi-Amit Shah duo, there would be reasonsfor their detractors to smell blood.
"In the event of BJP losing badly in Karnataka, which is a possibility, several alliance partners of BJP may leave the sinking ship. After Karnataka polls, real realignment of political forces and especially in the context of a third front of regional parties will get further boost and a specific direction," said Shankar Nayak, JD(S) leader and candidate for Mudhol assembly segment.
Sources in JD(S) and Trinamool also agree that there are several issues which favour early formation of a viable alternative to both the Congress and the BJP.
These leaders think the Congress chance of a national level revival is remote even if it remains a formidable force in Karnataka or states like Punjab.
"But for PM Modi and BJP, the negative factors are more and this shows there is a need for a national alternative. There will be a backlash against the BJP. There is popular anger over Modi's inability to deliver on his promises and growing discontent of lower-caste people and minorities," said JD(S) leader Shankar Nayak.
However, certain issues are already surfacing which may not ensure a solid 'anti-BJP front'.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has stated that his party will never have any truck with a 'regional front' which will have their arch rival Mamata Banerjee in the forefront.
"Like we are struggling hard to muster votes against BJP at the national level, in West Bengal out fight is against the Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee," Mr Yechury has said.
There is already a minor political upheaval in West Bengal wherein the BJP and the CPI(M) have allegedly "joined hands" in Nadia district to ensure defeat of the Trinamool Congress in the panchayat polls in West Bengal.
The CPI-M leadership has been at pains to explain that there was "no formal seat sharing" in the district.
As of now for all the regional Parties and probably also for outfits like Shiv Sena, which is still part of NDA, or N Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP that has quit BJP-led alliance -- the priority is that the BJP should lose badly in Karnataka.
But many regional leaders opine that the Congress party should avoid complacency.
"Even before the voting, Congress leaders give indication that the war in Karnataka is half-won. Rahul Gandhi's comment 'I could be Prime Minister' was avoidable," said a Trinamool leader.
However, at the ground level Congress workers and leaders understand how hard the job ahead is. Many Congress supporters in North Karnataka districts in hubs like Raichur and Bellary said whileRahul Gandhi has been attracting hundreds at road shows and rallies but "there is no guarantee for votes".
Congress, that returned to power in 2013, strongly believes victory in Karnataka would boost party workers to strive for revival in the national polity as the grand old party has suffered continuous reversed in various states since 2014.
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