Campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections to all 28 seats in Karnataka concluded on Tuesday, setting the stage for polling on Thursday.
The campaign phase for the state polls saw the BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi hold rallies in as many as 14 places in a clear effort to push up its national seat tally as he makes a serious effort at claiming power in Delhi through a campaign that revolves around him.
The BJP is largely relying on the Modi factor and UPA-II’s poor record alone to wipe out the memories of its own poor record of governance while being in power in Karnataka between 2008 and 2013. No senior BJP leader other than Modi campaigned for the party in Karnataka.
The Modi factor, though present in some regions of the state where the Sangh Parivar has strong roots, has not been clearly visible in much of Karnataka with local issues and caste factors having more pre-dominance.
In the 2009 elections, the BJP, under the leadership of then chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, had won 19 seats and the party is hoping for a similar performance this time too.
Congress leaders Rahul and Sonia Gandhi also campaigned in about 10 places, leaving much of the hard grind for seats in the hands of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the local party leadership. With the state administration in its control this time, the Congress is hoping it can counter whatever Modi effect there is in the state.
Siddaramaiah has been claiming that the Congress would win 20 of the 28 seats even as most pundits are putting the number down in the range of 11 to 14.
Karnataka has incidentally voted contrary to the national vote in Lok Sabha elections over the years.
The Janata Dal (Secular) party’s 81-year-old leader, former PM H D Devegowda, once again displayed indefatigable energy for politics criss-crossing the state to campaign for the party in a manner contrary to his age. Despite all its exertions, the JD(S) is expected to fare well in three to four constituencies only although party leader H D Kumaraswamy is expecting results in 13 seats.
The Aam Aadmi Party, making its debut in Karnataka, generated a lot of interest in the early part of the campaign, especially by fielding good, clean candidates in most of the constituencies.
AAP however had a low-key campaign as it struggled to come to terms with the vast constituencies that make up a Lok Sabha seat electorate.
Much of the campaign for the Lok Sabha polls has been dominated by personal attacks, taunts and jibes rather than serious development issues — creating a sense of apathy among the public in general.