The dust has settled and the din has ended. After months of a bitterly, no-holds-barred contest, which at times turned deeply communal and at times vituperatively personal, the campaign for the Karnataka state Assembly elections has finally drawn to a close.
The day of silence on Tuesday will give voters, hopefully, some relief from all the claims, counter-claims, promises, declarations, oaths, attacks, counterattacks, allegations, advertisements, meetings, speeches, songs, and a plethora of other gimmicks to reflect wisely and make a fair choice.
There is only one additional thing we can all hope to tell and advise the voters of the state — please do vote. No matter which party or candidate, national or state, or an independent, or NOTA, but please do turn up to be counted and do your duty. A democracy is as strong as the proportion of people who take interest in the affairs of a society or country, and hopefully Karnataka will set a wonderful record in voting in these polls.
After the voting on Wednesday, the focus will quickly shift to the exit polls late evening, and finally the counting and actual results on Saturday. If the campaign for Karnataka was a movie, it was a mega Indian potboiler with every single ingredient, and its net total was a wholesome thali.
The Congress — which was largely in opposition during this term (it ran a government briefly with JDS after preventing the BJP as the single largest party from forming government in the first bid, thus also ending the active political career of B.S. Yediyurappa) — found several things going for it positively, after a while, against the BJP.
It could set a narrative of the son of the soil versus the outsider by using the symbolic fight between Nandini and Amul, signifying Kannada pride. It also announced its candidates before the BJP, and a greater number of leaders defected from the BJP towards the Congress. The Grand Old Party could also manage the inner party rivalries better and project a cohesive house.
The factor of the Gandhi family leading the campaign, supplementing the efforts of the party president Mallikarjun Kharge, and the two main state leaders, Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar. The party succeeded in portraying the Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government as a corrupt, inefficient one, and, according to most polls, is the favourite to win a majority when the results are declared on May 13.
The BJP, fighting the elections against the odds, displayed extraordinary character and put in all its resources, in contrast to how the Congress almost disappeared in Gujarat after opinion polls predicted a defeat. But, despite the fightback, it seemed to be on the back foot, till the Congress handed it the Bajrang Dal ban issue.
The only hope for the BJP was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who led the saffron campaign, in a way only he can — untiring, intrepid, and all in — and many in the BJP hope and are even confident that he had won the match all alone for the party again.
People also hope that there would be a clear verdict and not a hung House, and if that is the case on May 13, while one of the two national parties will celebrate, the JDS will find its journey is almost over.