The election season for big states in 2018 starts with a fascinating triangular contest in Karnataka.
These elections are crucial for all key players – BJP, Congress and Janata Dal (Secular).
For Congress, because this is the only big state, sending more than 15 MPs to Parliament, where the party is in power. A loss here would hasten the process of a ‘Congress-mukt-Bharat’.
The elections is crucial for BJP as Karnataka was the first state in South India where the party stormed to power in 2008.
In many ways this acts as party’s gateway to southern part of India. Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda’s regional party JDS is the third player, which is going full throttle to scuttle the plans of both the national parties and emerge as the kingmaker in a hung assembly.
These elections will set the tone for elections to three states – Madhya Pradesh (MP), Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh (CG) – slated to be held at the end of the year and the Lok Sabha elections to be held in Q1-Q2 2019.
The 3 states are all ruled by BJP. Rajasthan has a history of throwing out incumbent governments every five years, recent by-poll results indicate the public mood.
In both MP and CG, BJP has been in power for c.15 years, a long enough period, to develop natural anti-incumbency. The popularity of the two leaders Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh provides a cushion against this anti-incumbency.
If Congress is able to retain Karnataka then it would provide a fillip to its claim in the three states and central elections of next year.
If BJP manages to win / form government in Karnataka, it will provide it with significant momentum to neutralize the anti-incumbency in the three states of MP, Raj and CG.
It will also strengthen its claim to win maximum seats in Parliament in 2019 and neutralize some of the negative news about agri-distress, unemployment, NPAs, Nirav Modi scam etc.
So, this election is very important and has larger implications…..