Karnataka polls: Electoral tempo picks up steadily



Bangalore: Election atmospherics is steadily unfolding in the state for the May five Karnataka Assembly elections as political parties are readying for a complex poll battle.

The ruling BJP and JDS led by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and the fledgling Karnataka Janatha Paksha of former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa have generated enough heat through their campaign.

Congress, that sees power within the striking distance encouraged by the outcome of the recently held Urban Local Bodies polls, has launched its campaign yesterday.

It was none-too-happy a start as several key Congress leaders, including former External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and former Chief Minister N Dharam Singh skipped the rally that had a lower than expected turnout.

Scoring over the two dominant players, the JDS and KJP have released their manifestos, holding out myriad promises.

Yeddyurappa, known as a strong RSS man, has promised a Rs 2,000 crore budget for Muslims for their welfare in the manifesto that has come out just days after he vowed "in the name of God and Allah", never to return to BJP.

Reflecting its pro-farmers leaning, the JDS has said it would waive loans of farmers, if voted to power. And, in its strategy of wooing Muslims, it has promised to implement the recommendations of the Sacchar Committee.

Both BJP and Congress are working on giving a final shape to their manifestos.

Many candidates of the four parties have already launched their campaign, including door-to-door.

It is not a happy picture for the BJP and Congress as they are still to complete the rigmarole of finalising all the candidates for the 224 seats.

For the Congress, it is a problem of plenty with the number of ticket aspirants reaching unmanageable proportions. It is even facing pressure to revisit the candidates list.

The BJP camp is a picture of contrast as nearly 30 MLAs have deserted the party looking for greener pastures in the KJP.

Party sources say they are finding it a tough exercise in closing in on winnable candidates in north Karnataka, a region from where the BJP has built its electoral muscle.

The presence of Yeddyurappa has added a complexity to the election scene, even as the BJP is struggling to get rid of the alleged past misdeeds that the party says occurred during his rule.

The campaign is expected to gather pace and go into full throttle, particularly after the last date for withdrawal of nominations on April 20.

PTI