The BJP and the Janata Dal (secular) are both carrying out rally’s across Karnataka to highlight the shortcomings of the Congress rule under chief minister K. Siddaramaiah. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
The BJP and the Janata Dal (secular) are both carrying out rally’s across Karnataka to highlight the shortcomings of the Congress rule under chief minister K. Siddaramaiah. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

How Karnataka Congress is trying to micromanage 2018 assembly elections

The ruling Congress is taking no chances with Karnataka elections 2018 with steps like reaching out to every single worker, voter and constituency to ensure it can stall the impressive run of the BJP

Bengaluru: The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) has undertaken a herculean task of setting up booth level committees at 54,261 locations who will be responsible to disseminate information on various government programmes, its implementation among other duties to its constituents.

The ruling Congress in Karnataka is taking no chances with next year’s elections with steps like reaching out to every single worker, voter and constituency to ensure it can stall the impressive run of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose strength mainly comes from the grass root level support it enjoys.

The micromanagement of the Congress party and its extensive outreach programme could also help the state lead the revival of the party that has suffered a series of losses in various state elections since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls where it was reduced to double digits after a decade in power at the centre and lay a proper foundation in the run up to the 2019 general elections.

“This is the first time in KPCC history that 54261 booth committees are being set up," G.Parameshwara, president of the KPCC said on Thursday while adding that each committee will have 10-20 people. Though the election commission prescribes a mandatory appointment of a booth level agent, the Congress has gone a step further with its committee’s to help put up a united front and end any squabbling between workers that has been a constant feature at most of the state executive and coordination meets, especially around the time of ticket distribution.

“It becomes important for the Congress to look into this aspect and make sure that they don’t face any organisational disadvantage vis a vis their opponent (BJP)," Sandeep Shastry, political scientist and pro-vice chancellor at the Jain University said.

Though the earlier norm was to focus on bastions and closely contested seats, the state Congress is leaving nothing to chance and is also carrying out two separate month long Yatra’s—one led by chief minister Siddaramaiah and the second by Parameshwara—just before the elections next year. Notwithstanding reports of increasing tensions between the top leadership of the party (Siddaramaiah and Parameshwara), the KPCC is trying to ensure that its grass root levels are not fragmented.

The BJP and the Janata Dal (secular) are both carrying out rally’s across the state to highlight the shortcomings of the Congress rule—or misrule—under Siddaramaiah, which forces the party to project its achievements to counter opposition political party claims.

The KPCC has delegated different sets of responsibilities to different wings of its frontal organisations like Youth Congress, National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and the Mahila Congress among other departments.

Shastry says that the Congress will have to approach 2018 differently when compared to 2013, when the party was in opposition. He says that in 2013 they could easily oppose what the BJP did, but this time they have to defend their government’s record.

“One critical factor in defending your record in government is to look at is how your party’s organisation at multiple levels is able to project that," he adds.

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