Karnataka: BJP and Congress Face Difficulties in Selecting Winning Candidates for Local Government Elections

The two national parties, the BJP and the governing Congress, which are the main rivals in the Karnataka Lok Sabha elections, are having difficulty selecting victorious candidates in a number of areas where the stakes are high.

In the 2019 general elections, the BJP won 25 of the 28 seats available in the state; moreover, one independent supported by the party became successful.

After forming a coalition government and fighting the election jointly, the Congress and the JD(S), led by former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, failed to gain more than one seat each.

However, a lot has changed in the political landscape: the Congress, which won handily in the Assembly elections in May of last year, now seems primed and ready to mount a formidable defense in the Lok Sabha elections.

For JD(S), which joined the BJP-led NDA in September of last year and is looking to establish its continued influence, especially in South Karnataka, it represents a kind of role reversal.

A “litmus test” for state BJP President B Y Vijayendra, who has the difficult challenge of guiding the party to maintain its dominance in the Lok Sabha elections, is also seen to be the next vote.

Finding winning horses is at the top of the list of difficulties faced by both the Congress and the BJP.

According to party insiders, the BJP is seeing pushback in some areas over fielding existing Lok Sabha MPs again, as well as alliance pressures to make room for its new partner JD(S).

A top representative of the governing party said that although the Congress is eager to run certain Ministers, they are hesitating. The Congress won 135 of the 224 seats up for grabs in the Assembly elections.

The BJP hopes to win all 28 seats by capitalizing on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while the Congress is hoping to win 20 seats by emphasizing that it has implemented five guarantee programs.

Ministers were originally assigned by the Congress to identify possible candidates, however state president and deputy chief minister D K Shivakumar recently said that the quality of the reports he had received was inadequate.

According to Shivakumar, the party has chosen to carry out a second poll in order to determine which candidates have the best chance of winning.

According to a Congress leader, many senior leaders are reluctant to get involved in the race because the party’s chances of winning at the federal level remain bleak, even after the party was soundly defeated in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and lost several prominent figures, such as M Mallikarjun Kharge, Veerappa Moily, and K H Muniyappa, despite the party’s alliance with the JD(S) to retain power in the state.

Shivakumar, who has made no secret of his desire to become Chief Minister in the wake of rumors of a guard change midway through the Assembly term, would be watching this poll closely.

BJP insiders claim that the party is having some difficulties in seats like Bidar, Bellary, Haveri, Udupi-Chikmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Koppal, Davangere, Chamarajanagar, Belgaum, and Bijapur. In these seats, the party is either facing internal opposition to fielding the current LS member or is unsure of who should run.

After their present terms are over, MPs V Srinivas Prasad of Chamarajanagar and Shivakumar Udasi of Haveri have already declared their retirement from electoral politics.

The BJP’s election fight and campaign are primarily driven by Prime Minister Modi, along with the Hindutva factor this time around with the consecration of the Ram Lalla idol at Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, so issues pertaining to the candidates may not significantly affect the party’s prospects in several of these segments, a party official stated.

Notwithstanding any early issues, everyone will eventually cooperate and support the triumph of the party’s chosen candidate, whether they are the party’s incumbent or a newcomer, he added. We have winning momentum on our side in addition to having a strong central leadership.

For senior politician B S Yediyurappa’s son Vijayendra to solidify his position as the party’s state president and quell opponents who have questioned his appointment for the role, it is also imperative that the BJP sweep the poll.

In order to create room for JD(S), the alliance partner, the BJP would also need to give up some seats to the party in the former Mysuru area (south Karnataka), which is where the regional party gets its power.

Both parties are in negotiations about sharing a seat. JD(S) may run for three or four seats, according to information that is currently accessible, notwithstanding the lack of formal confirmation. It is possible that a JD(S) candidate may run under the BJP emblem.

It goes without saying that ground-level cooperation and understanding among their workers and the transfer of votes to each other are crucial for the BJP and JD(S) partnership to succeed.

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