Congress is buoyed by its performance in Gujarat elections and Rajasthan by-polls. Rahul ran an effective on the ground campaign in Gujarat focusing on local issues. Partly succeeded in making the contest into 182 mini contests rather than for ‘one state’ as projected by Modi.
However, Karnataka is a different ball game. Here Congress is the incumbent and will have to battle natural anti-incumbency. Rahul realizes that a localized campaign here would not work because there will always be a road, a school, a hospital which would not have been built. Certain manifesto promises are still work in progress, not yet fully implemented. Some are difficult to implement because of practical considerations.
Congress strategy is to keep issues at the state level and project good work of Siddaramaiah govt. Strategy is to contest on a combined leadership strength of Siddaramaiah banking on his popularity among AHINDA, complemented by Rahul’s increasing popularity ratings. Essentially converting the elections into Presidential style.
Rahul began his campaign in Ballary attacking Modi and Congress at national level. Attempt is to play on anger which is slowly developing against centre – jobs, agri distress, Rafael deal, Nirav Modi scam. In same way, Modi talked about everything apart from Gujarat model in elections there. However, this strategy entails a risk of pitting Rahul vs Modi.