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Karnataka election outcome hotly debated as Mudda speakers analyze how it will impact coming contests and the future of the Congress and Rahul Gandhi

The Karnataka elections will be followed by four more state elections this year to be held in the Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. A win by the Congress is sure to boost the opposition parties while a defeat would bolster central policies and programmes. Also, how will these polls impact the 2019 general election?

Saturday’s edition of Mudda took up these questions and tried to answer them. Participants included senior journalists Piyush Pant and Govind Pant Raju, Congress spokesperson Hilal Naqvi, BJP spokesperson Ashok Thakur and former election commissioner SK Verma. The talk was moderated by Anant Tyagi.

“The Karnataka election is being seen as a fight between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. This is the first election in a big state fought from the scratch by the Congress after Rahul became the party president. No doubt, he did well in Gujarat but this time he has given more than enough indicators that he is ready to take on the mantle of the PM which has helped inspire his supporters and mobilized cadres. So the results of this election will definitely have a nationwide impact,” Raju said.

Naqvi noted that Rahul has successfully broken the mould of the overprotected, immature dynasty kid and it is all to his credit that he has done so. He is a good leader, he said.

“Our party has good organisational strength and we are fighting the election on that basis. We have campaigned very methodically. Speaking of Rahul, we had asked him to speak on the Congress government’s achievements in Karnataka without reading from any piece of paper, and he failed to do so,” Thakur interjected.

Verma observed that the team conducting the elections is performing poorly compared to the one that conducted the previous elections as enough preventive measures have not been taken.

Raju raised the point that if the Janata Dal (Secular) does not do well in this election, it will perish just like Chaudhary Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal. So for them, it is a battle for survival. Pant objected, saying the JD(S) had not performed too badly the last time around winning 40 of the assembly’s 225 seats.

When Naqvi enquired what the BJP’s strategy was vis-à-vis JD(S), Thakur said the election was being fought on the plank of development. The talk shifted to BS Yeddyurappa and corruption. Thakur declared, “Siddaramaiah will lose in both his seats just as Harish rawat did in Uttarakhand. The BJP will get a clear majority and form government in the state.”

Speaking on Yogi Adityanath campaigning in Karnataka, Raju said it may not be as effective as the people there are not too overtly religious and even though the UP chief minister keeps harping on his acche din plans, the reality tells its own story.

“Yogiji is the Congress’ poster boy. His face is seen more in posters and less in offices,” Naqvi quipped.

On Yeddyurappa’s exhortation to bring people bound hand and foot to the booth and ask them to vote, Pant said it was a breach of their democratic right and mentioned another leader, Chandrasekhar, inciting communal sentiments through his speeches. “Why is the EC quiet?” he asked pertinently.

Verma has a good answer. “Should EC interfere when campaigns get communal, there is hate speech thrown about, unethical behaviour is sought of the voter and unparliamentary language used? It will then have too much on its plate. Let the voter punish the wrongdoer through their ballot,” he said.

—Compiled by Sucheta Dasgupta 

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