The present political climate in Karnataka is similar to that of 2014, and it will not be a surprise if the BJP romps home easily with 150+ seats.
Is this a waveless election as claimed by some journalists of the mainstream media (MSM)?
No, it is a false claim and wishful thinking of journalists in MSM. There is a strong undercurrent of anger against the Congress government in Karnataka. There are many reasons, the government has failed in all aspects of governance and has allowed rampant corruption at lower levels of governance affecting the common man directly. Today, as a practising doctor with my own small setup, I have to pay a bribe to the second division clerk from the district health officer (DHO) office, who visits my modest clinic to conduct inspections. The scenario is the same in every field: It is the return of inspector raj in Karnataka, and any number of complaints against these corrupt officers has not yielded results. Local MLAs/ministers are helpless or are involved in corruption as a part of the proceeds reaches them to wet their beaks (I have deliberately not mentioned big ticket corruption as it does not affect the immediate life of common man who votes).
The government in Karnataka has been anti-Hindu in its approach from day one, they have attacked Hindu mutts and tried to take them over. The Siddaramaiah government took pride in celebrating Tippu Jayanti which was totally uncalled for, as Tippu Sultan was a known tyrant ruler who enforced Sharia on a predominantly Hindu population, forced Persian as the official language of communication and on top of this was involved in mass murder of Hindus in Melkote and Coorg apart from many areas in present coastal India. The addition of Bahamani Sultan Festival added to the already anti Hindu image of this government, further alienating the Hindus.
These two factors are enough for most of us to vote for change, but the Siddaramaiah government did not stop here: They did the unthinkable; divided Hindus openly in a blatant manner and declared Lingayats as an independent religion using the Nagmohan Das Committee report. Do also note that there were no Lingayat/Veerashaivas in the seven-member committee led by Nagmohan Das. There are about 1,200 active Lingayat/Veerashaiva mutts in Karnataka and most of them are predominant in North and Central Karnataka. Those who actively worked for separate religion status would not be more than 20 mutts, whose influence was confined to small pockets.
The point I would like to make clearly is that about 1,000+ active and influential Lingayat mutts were against this decision of Siddaramaiah, which has divided Hindus, and more so, tried to drive a wedge between Veerashaivas and Lingayats for votes. Veerashaivas and Lingayats were synonymous not long ago but the Siddaramaiah government attributed a different meaning to them and tried to divide the community. This has not been taken lying down by the mutt seers as this step by the Siddaramaiah government was taken despite all major mutts and peetas asking the government to not meddle in the affairs of religion.
Word is out that students of these major 1000+ mutts and well-wishers of Hinduism have done Bhikshatana for votes to defeat the government of Siddaramaiah. The Basava Belt alone, which consists of parts of North, Hyderabad and Central Karnataka with about 70 seats, may yield 60+ to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Was Taking on Narendra Modi a wrong move?
For all the bravado of Congress, Siddaramaiah and Rahul Gandhi, perhaps, it was a huge mistake to take on Modi and attack him as they simply lack his potential for delivery and governance. Kannadigas are not fools, they can separate wheat from chaff and that will happen on election day.
Did Narendra Modi and Amit Shah make a difference?
Absolutely, they have almost perfected the art of winning elections and have been able to energise cadre beyond belief.
Five years is a long time in politics. In 2013, the state went to the polls with the BJP government losing power after having created a strong anti-incumbency wave against itself. It made a mess of the governance, which saw three chief ministers in the five years of rule. This was further aided by breakaway factions of the BJP, which led to one of the worst performances of BJP in recent times.
Things changed in 2014, just a year after the Congress government took charge in Karnataka. In the Lok Sabha elections that followed, the BJP bagged 17 seats with 43.7 per cent vote share. The mood and atmosphere of Karnataka had changed in few months; just extrapolating those results to current assembly elections of 2018, BJP should romp home in nearly 150+ seats.
In my opinion, the current mood in Karnataka is similar to what was witnessed in the 2014 general elections. I see a vote share which is upwards of 45 per cent and closer to 50 per cent. It will not be a surprise if the BJP romps home easily with 150+ seats.