By M.K. Ashoka
Bengaluru, Mar 19 (IANS): Riding high on the anti-incumbency factor, the Karnataka Congress camp is brimming with the confidence of returning to power in the state in the upcoming assembly polls. State party president D.K. Shivakumar has stated that the party would win more than 140 seats.
With the senior Dalit leader from the state Mallikarjun Kharge being elected as the AICC president, it will make a difference to the party in attracting their votes, which have gone to the ruling BJP in the state, say experts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited Kalaburagi made it a point to explain how Kharge was insulted during the party convention held at Chhattisgarh. Kharge, who suffered a humiliating defeat in the last Lok Sabha elections in his home turf, is eagerly waiting to settle scores.
Party insiders explain that Shivakumar and Opposition leader Siddaramaiah have come to terms. The supporters of both leaders have stopped issuing statements and claiming their leader as the future CM candidate.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Karnataka made it clear that the MLAs of the party will elect their CM candidate post the elections. More or less, both the leaders have come to an understanding and are working for the party.
The Congress which seemed to suffer a setback after the back to back visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to Karnataka, bounced back.
The protests by the Congress against the inauguration of the Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway, the project which the BJP is claiming as one of its major achievements, are getting traction among the people. The social media is abuzz with the shortcomings of fixing the toll fee, service road etc.
A National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) officer claimed that the expressway was never meant to be a 10-lane one and it is a six-lane highway. He stated that if everyone takes the service road, who will pay the toll?
These statements have seriously affected the goodwill created by the BJP about the project.
The scandal involving BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa, in which his son, a government officer was caught red-handed while accepting a Rs 40 lakh bribe and the MLA being named as the prime accused in the case has proved to be a shot in the arm for the Congress.
The Congress attacked the Central as well as the state BJP vehemently in this backdrop and told the people that this has proved their charge of a 40 per cent commission government in the state.
Sources in the party state that 30 seats have been reserved for those who will be pulled from other political parties, mostly the BJP. The saffron party has been successful in taking independent MP Sumalatha Ambareesh from Mandya into its fold.
The Congress has pulled more than half a dozen leaders from the ruling BJP. With two ministers also winking at the Congress, the opposition party is confident of making it to power. Shivakumar, who was jailed, is putting in all efforts, channelising resources and is eager to settle political scores by giving a taste of defeat to the BJP.
Siddaramaiah has continued his attacks on the RSS and the BJP. "I will continue to oppose the RSS and the BJP till my last breath," he announced.
Party insiders explain that ticket allocation is the crucial point for the Congress party and if the high command quells the dissidence that is likely to crop up, the party has a fair chance of grabbing power in the state.