In politics, not all the politicians say publicly are true but what they don’t, are, often. Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah is putting up a brave face, trying to outsmart the twin challenge from the JD(S) and the BJP, and claiming a Congress sweep even as opinion polls predict a hung Assembly. The BJP, meanwhile, is leaving no stone unturned or no door closed to face any eventuality.
Addressing a rally in Karnataka on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mocked Siddramaiah, saying the Karnataka chief minister is following a “2+1 formula” to win the upcoming polls. “I was reading the papers and saw a 2+1 formula in Karnataka. This is a version of family politics in Karnataka. This is the innovation of the sleeping CM of Karnataka. He is fearing defeat so changing seats, fighting two seats. And, in his old seat he has sent his son,” Modi said, adding, “If CM has a 2+1 formula then Ministers have 1+1 formula. Relatives of Ministers are fighting polls. This is hurting the workers of the Congress. In front of the Congress ‘Naamdaars’ the Congress ‘Kaamdaars’ have no voice and this is so sad.”
Karnataka Congress came up with its reaction, explaining Modi’s 2+1 as “2 Reddys +1 Yeddy (Yeddyurappa).” “Today PM avoided talking about his complicity in closing CBI cases against the Reddy bros. Instead he spoke about some 2+1 formula. Here is the explanation to his formula to win election. 2 Reddys + 1 Yeddy,” Siddaramaiah tweeted.
Overzealous Congress may have been too quick to react to PM Modi’s remarks, but a real “2+1 formula” does seem to be the gameplan of the BJP to snatch Karnataka from the Congress again. And that formula would be – Reddys+Yeddyurappa+ Deve Gowda.
An example of the BJP strategy was seen when PM Modi surprisingly extended an olive branch to JD(S) by speaking up for former PM H.D. Deve Gowda, who often takes pride in his “secular” credentials. PTI quoted Modi as saying, “But I heard the Congress president speak at political rallies 15-20 days ago….the way he referred to respected Deve Gowda ji….is this your culture (sanskar)? This is arrogance…Your life (as Congress chief) has just begun. Deve Gowda is among the tallest leaders of the country. You are insulting him.”
Modi recalled how he himself treats Deve Gowda on his visit to Delhi. ” “Whenever he comes to meet me in Delhi, I make it a point to receive him at the entrance of my home…open the door of the car for him. I also see him off up to his car,” he said. ”
Karnataka Congress has often accused the BJP and the JD(S) of being in a secret pact. Modi’s remarks and further reaction from Deve Gowda have set the rumour mills buzzing.
“A Kannadiga had become the PM. How Siddaramaiah tried to demolish the Kannadigas pride, taking that as a background, he (PM Modi) said this is how Congress gives respect to Kannadigas, this does not mean a ‘gathbandhan,” ANI quoted Devegowda as saying. The former PM verbally ruled out an alliance with BJP after polls but was not critical of Modi. The possibility of JD(S) joining the BJP in case of a hung assembly, hence, cannot be denied.
The second axis of BJP’s 2+1 formula is the Reddy brothers. The BJP has played quietly till now about the role of tainted former minister and mining baron G Janardhan Reddy in BJP campaign. However, the saffron party has given tickets to several members of former minister Reddy’s family. BJP chief Amit Shah has reportedly avoided being seen along with Reddy, who has been campaigning for BJP candidate B Sriramulu.
BJP CM candidate Yeddyurappa has claimed that Reddy has been campaigning for one candidate and not the BJP. Interestingly, with Reddy’s family members in the fray, the BJP can’t deny it wants to benefit from the clout of Reddys in Ballari regions. Yeddyurappa, in fact, told The Indian Express today: Tickets to Reddys was “cleared” by Amit Shah. “Some of the Reddy brothers are contesting the polls but we have not given a ticket to Janardhan Reddy. If they work for the BJP, it will be beneficial for the party. This was the view, and it was accepted by the party leadership.”
The third factor BJP is banking on is Yeddyurappa himself. A strong Lingayat leader, charismatic, and the only person who can counter Congress’ trick to give separate religious identity to the sect, Yeddyurappa is running in the contest, despite him being previously accused of corruption and his age of 75, an unofficial cut-off age for BJP leaders to graduate from active politics to the “margdarshak mandal.”