The crucial element for the Congress in Karnataka, besides getting its messaging right, is the contour of its pre-poll pact with the Janata Dal (Secular). In the southern Karnataka districts of Mandya, Hassan and Tumkur, the party has been hard-pressed to defend its decision to back a candidate of the JD(S). Can the two parties successfully pull off a transfer of votes with joint candidates, is the big question.
“At the level of bringing party workers together, there is a challenge and it will be interesting to see how they manage that,” says political commentator Sandeep Shastri. In Mandya, the Congress has to ensure its party workers don’t gravitate towards actress Sumalatha, an Independent candidate, while in Hassan, a Congress rebel is now the BJP’s nominee against joint candidate Prajwal Revanna. Besides, in Tumkur, where JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda is contesting, the sitting Congress MP has rebelled by filing his nomination. “The seat-sharing arrangement has created more problems than anticipated,” says political analyst A. Narayana.