The surprise of surprise in 2018 Karnataka Assembly Elections has turned out to be the Janata Dal (Secular). A party, which was politically out depth for more than a decade is suddenly in news. The Congress insiders says that the strong backward caste, Dalit and Muslim polarisation coupled with lack of any outreach towards the community has led to Vokkaligas to rally around JDS in greater gusto. This community, till today, has give 5 chief ministers to the state.The Congress sources says that in earlier elections, a part of the Vokkaliga community voted for the other parties but this time the consolidation around the JDS seems to have grown even more. Even Asadudin Owaisi has declared support for JDS. He will not be fielding candidates but would campaign for the party if required.This makes Congress more nervous than the BJP. BJP’s Lingayat-led alliance has traditionally never received a substantial chunk of this vote which dominates the old Mysore region. Vokkaligas are dominant peasantry and form the rock bed of Deve Gowda’s votebank. In this election, they seem to be rallying hard around the former Prime Minister Deve Gowda because they feel neglected by the Congress.BJP on the other hand understands that better performance of the JDS means weak performance of the Congress Party in south Karnataka. BJP’s strength lies in north Karnataka which is further sub-divided into Bombay Karnataka and Hyderabad Karnataka.Few months back, Congress President Rahul Gandhi wanted Agriculture Minister of Karnataka Krishna Byre Gowda to take over as the PCC President. Reliable sources said that Gowda wanted Chief Minister Siddharamia on the same page as he did not want to be reduced as a symbolic Gowda leading the Congress organization.Apparently, CM did not take much interest in the proposal. Many say that lack of outreach is a result of acrimonious parting CM had with JDS leadership years back.Today Siddaramaiah is the face of Kannadiga pride and Dalit-Muslim and Backward caste consolidation. Congress even has the number advantage over BJP, but Vokkaligas still have the potential to derail Congress Party’s come back campaign by denying it a simple majority. Till polling, the game is on.

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In battle for Karnataka, the Vokkaliga fix may complicate Congress campaign