Karnataka is all set for Assembly election for which votes will be cast on May 12 and by May 15 evening a new government will be in power. In more than three decades Karnataka has not voted back any government for consecutive terms.
The BJP’s hope hinges on history that Karnataka will vote the Opposition party into power in 2018 as well and at the same time the Congress is also expecting that a different trend witnessed over the years will keep it in power. In past two decades, Karnataka has elected a party to power which is in Opposition at the Centre.
First Karnataka Assembly election that set the wheels of change in motion:
While other South Indian states have strong regional political parties, Karnataka has preferred a national party more consistently than others in the last 35 years. Two election years – 1983 and 2004 – have proved to be watersheds for Karnataka Assembly polls.
In both these years the Congress was voted out of power but the new claimants to government were relatively untested in Karnataka and did not reach the majority mark. These years marked a transition.
In 1983, Karnataka marked the end of one-party domination in the state. The Congress was voted out of power for the first time since Independence. The Janata Party emerged as the single largest party defeating the Congress.
The election to Karnataka Assembly happened two years later and the government led by Janata Party leader Ram Krishna Hegde – who ran a government with the outside support of the BJP and the Left – was given full majority in the mid-term poll. This transition turned Karnataka politics into a two-party system.
Second watershed election in Karnataka was witnessed in 2004:
The Janata Party and its survivors kept alternating with the Congress in Karnataka in elections after elections. The BJP had not emerged as a power during 1980s and 1990s in Karnataka.
In 2004, the BJP came better of the Congress government led by SM Krishna, who completed his tenure as Karnataka chief minister but not for full five years as election was called six months ahead of schedule. The BJP-led government lost the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 but emerged the single-largest party in Karnataka.
The Janata family survivor Janata Dal (S) led by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda was pushed to the sidelines as the third force behind the BJP and the Congress. The BJP and JD(S) formed a coalition government in 2004.
The two national parties have alternated since then and in Karnataka Assembly election 2018. The BJP and BS Yeddyurappa hope that Karnataka will lengthen the streak of voting out ruling party while Congress and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah expect that another convenient trend (of Centre’s rival party gets power in the state) will bring them back to power for consecutive terms.