Gaffes & guffaws on Karnataka: Shah, Malviya err; 'fabulous' start for Cong

Karnataka election: BJP National President Amit Shah(R) pays his tribute to Kuvempu Smarak in Thirthahalli taluk of Shimoga district during his two-days Karnataka visit, ahead of State Assembly Elections. Photo: PTI
Welcoming the Election Commission's schedule for Karnataka elections, political parties on Tuesday said they are "election ready", with all three players, Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal (Secular), claiming that they would come to power.

The EC today announced a single-phase election for the 224-member Karnataka Legislative Assembly on May 12, with the counting of votes to be taken up on May 15.

BJP President Amit Shah welcomed the announcement, saying that the party would come to power with a thumping majority under the leadership of state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa.

The ruling Congress, which is facing a tough challenge from BJP, welcomed the election dates, asserting that the party is poll ready.

The elections are being held to choose the 224 members of the Karnataka Assembly whose tenure ends in May 2018. The polls are being seen politically crucial for the ruling Congress, as well as the BJP, as Karnataka is the only big state where the former is in power after losing a string of Assembly elections to the saffron party in the past few years. The BJP is making a concerted bid to unseat the Congress. Besides, the Congress and the BJP, another player in the fray is former prime minister H D Deve Gowda's JD(S).

Currently, the Congress party holds a simple majority of 123 seats in the 224 constituencies’ strong Karnataka legislative assembly. The BJP holds 44 and the JD(s) has 40 seats respectively. 

Karnataka Assembly election significance

The Karnataka Assembly elections 2018 are important for the Congress party, currently in power in the state, as this is the last big state where it is still in power after losing a string of Assembly elections to the BJP in the past few years. It is also important for the BJP, which will be trying to unseat the Congress and push its call for 'Congress- Bharat'.

Important dates for Karnataka Assembly Election 2018

17 April: Issue of notification

24 April: Last date of nomination

25 April: Date of scrutiny

27 April: Last date of withdrawal of candidates

12 May: Date of Polling

15 May: Counting of votes/ Result day
* Date of notification is April 17 and nominations should be filed by April 24. The last date of withdrawal of candidature is April 27. Counting of votes will take place on May 15.

Here are the top developments Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018

1) Congress mocks Amit Shah: 
Congress said its campaign in Karnataka had started on a fabulous note as it took a swipe at BJP president Amit Shah who described his party's former government led by B S Yeddyurappa as "number one" in corruption while seeking to accuse the incumbent Congress regime in the state of graft.

Rahul Gandhi also poked fun at the BJP over a tweet from a member of the party's IT cell which mentioned the polling date in Karnataka before the Election Commission had announced it.

Now that the BJP IT cell has announced Karnataka elections, time for a sneak preview of our top secret campaign video!

Gifted to us by the BJP President, our campaign in Karnataka is off to a fabulous start. He says Yeddyurappa ran the most corrupt Govt ever...


— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 27, 2018
Congress social media in-charge Divya Spandana Ramya also mocked Shah's comment made at a press conference in Karnataka.

In another tweet, Ramya said this was not the first time Shah had expressed such feelings towards Yeddyurappa.

Addressing the media earlier today, Shah had remarked, "A Supreme Court retired judge has said that if a comparison is made on corruption, then the Yeddyurappa government would get the number one award."

Former BJP Karnataka chief Prahlad Joshi, also present at the conference, sought to nudge him by naming Siddaramaiah, the Congress chief minister in the state, and Shah promptly corrected himself.

"Er...Siddaramaiah government will be given the number one award," Shah said.

2) EC to probe Karnataka poll date leak: EC has set up a committee of senior officials to probe the leak of Karnataka poll schedule before it was announced by the Chief Election Commissioner earlier today.

The committee, which has been asked to submit its report within a week, would also suggest steps needed to prevent any such eventuality in future.

In a statement, the poll watchdog referred to a tweet by BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya in which he had put out the election date minutes before CEC O P Rawat actually announced the schedule at a press conference.

3) 'Congress will disappear from Karnataka': Union minister Prakash Javadekar, the BJP's in-charge for Karnataka polls, today claimed the Congress will "disappear" from the state like it has from other parts of the country and accused the Siddaramaiah government of being "anti-farmer and anti-poor".

On a day the Election Commission announced May 12 as the polling date in the state, Javadekar claimed that the people there are eager to throw out the Congress government due to its "divide and rule policy".

"The BJP is confident of a victory. Their game is divide and rule. They are anti-poor and anti-farmers. People don't appreciate such policies. The Congress will disappear from the state as it has from other parts of the country" he told reporters.

He also claimed that the state government had wanted to take over properties of mutts in the state which, he said, was a display of its "anti-Hindu" character.

Javadekar also took a dig at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi over his visits to shrines and holy places, saying people understand who is a real devotee and "whose rounds of temples are driven by-elections".

He said farm distress, lawlessness and lack of development in the state were the main poll issues.

ALSO READ: Parties welcome election dates, say they are poll ready

4) Amit Shah's blooper, calls BS Yeddyurappa corrupt

Amit Shah, while speaking to reporters, mistakenly called B S Yeddyurappa corrupt, while he perhaps meant Siddaramaiah. "I am not saying this, a retired Supreme Court judge has said this that Yeddyurappa government is the most corrupt government," Shah accidentally said before someone promptly corrected him and he amended his statement.

However, the damage was already done it seems as the Congress party was quick to latch on to the blooper as they termed the mistake Amit Shah's moment of truth.

5) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi at EC office: BJP today told EC that its IT cell chief Amit Malviya's tweet on the Karnataka Assembly election dates before the poll panel's announcement was based on a news channel's report and a state Congress office-bearer had also tweeted about it.

A party delegation led by Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi visited the commission after Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat termed the leak as "very serious" and promised "stringent action".

Naqvi later told reporters that Malviya should not have tweeted. He said that Malviya's tweet was based on a news channel report and he had no intention to undermine the EC's authority.

In a letter to the EC, Malviya said an English news channel had reported the poll date at 11.06 AM and he tweeted about it at 11.08 AM. He also stated that a Karnataka Congress functionary also tweeted about the poll dates exactly at the same time.

He also submitted screenshots of the news channel report, his tweet and the Congress leader's tweet and their timings to make his case.

Amit Malviya's tweet was based on a TV channel's source. It had no intention to undermine the stature of EC. A Karnataka Congress leader had also tweeted the same thing. We agree that he (Malviya) shouldn't have tweeted it: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP after meeting with EC officials

— ANI (@ANI) March 27, 2018
However, Karnataka Congress social media in-charge also announced poll dates much before EC did. Incidentally, both Amit Malviya and he tweeted at the same time and got the polling date right but result date wrong.
6) 'Free & fair' elections: All arrangements would be made and action would be taken to ensure "free and fair" assembly polls in Karnataka on May 12, state electoral authorities said.

"We have already taken all necessary precautions.. strict instructions have been given, everybody should participate in the election process impartially without being affected by any kind of allurements," Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar said.

Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat said that per candidate Rs 2.8 million (Rs 28 lakh) has been allotted for expenditure. "I urge my media friends to ensure that any wrongdoings or aberrations are highlighted," Rawat said.

Special arrangements will be made for women. In all, 450 polling stations will be managed fully by women

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) along with Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will be used for the Karnataka assembly elections, officials said. A voter guide will be given to each household.

A total of 76,110 VVPAT machines, 87,819 Ballot Units and 73,185 Control Units would be used.

A total of 3,56,552 polling personnel are required for the 2018 Karnataka assembly elections, Kumar said.

For enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) that has come into force, there would be 1,361 MCC teams, 1,503 Static Surveillance teams, 1542 Flying squads and 1097 Check posts, he said.

On the maintenance of law and order, he said police have been directed to execute all pending 42,815 non-bailable warrants immediately. Instructions have been given on seizure of illegal arms, preventive action and illicit liquor, among others, he said.

Eco-friendly material should be used for all propaganda exercise. Use of loudspeakers will be regulated so that people can sleep at night. Loudspeakers won't be allowed from 10 pm to 6 am, says CEC Om Prakash Rawat.

EC has decided to deploy CRPF to ensure people refrain from indulging in violent activities

7) Voting may cross 75%: Officials said awareness about the importance of electoral participation was being created among voters through Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) and it is expected that the voting would cross 75 per cent.

The voting percentage during the 2013 assembly election was 71.45.

Stating that total electors, including service electors in Karnataka as per the 2018 final rolls are 4,96,82,351 as compared to 4,36,85,739 in 2013, the CEO said, "there is a nine percent increase in the total voters."

The male voters are 2,52,05,820 in 2018 as compared to 2,23,15,727 in 2018.

The female voters are 2,44,71,979 in 2018 compared to 2,13,67,912 in 2013.

The transgender voters are 4,552 in 2018 as compared 2,100 in 2013, he added.

There are 15,42,000 young voters in the age group of 18-19 in 2018 as compared to 7,18,000 in 2013.

The young voters ratio has increased from 1.16 per cent to 2.20 per cent and the gender ratio from 958 to 972 in the same period; while Elector Population (EP) Ratio remained the same, officials said.

Noting that due to increase in the voters, the number of polling stations has also increased from 52,034 to 56,696 from 2013 to 2018, Kumar said an additional 1,850 auxiliary polling stations are being set up.

There are 56,696 BLOs (Booth Level Officer) in place, one for each polling station.

8) 'Siddaramaiah anti-Hindu leader': Shah said in his five-six visits to Karnataka, he has understood "the feeling" of the people in the state. "The feeling of people of Karnataka is that he (Siddaramaiah) is not AHINDA leader, an AHINDU (anti-Hindu) leader," he added.

AHINDA is a Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and dalits.

"On one hand, Congress president speaks about uniting Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, while on the other hand in Karnataka, its own chief minister is speaking about dividing Hindus," Shah said, adding that he has never seen such a sharp difference with a political party.

Accusing the Islamic outfit, Popular Front of India (PFI) and its political wing SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) of being involved in killing Hindus and the BJP and the RSS activists, Shah alleged that the state government was playing "dirty vote bank politics" by withdrawing cases against them.

"On one side, the Kerala government has recommended banning PFI to the Union government, but Siddaramaiah finds nothing wrong with the PFI. This appeasement policy is the biggest threat to the security of Karnataka and India."

Shah also said the people of Karnataka had understood that "this is the most corrupt government."

9) BJP is 'Super Election Commission', says Cong after poll date leak

The Congress dubbed the BJP "Super Election Commission", taking strong objection to its IT cell chief tweeting the date of the Karnataka Assembly election before the Election Commission had announced it.

Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala also said the Election Commission's credibility was at test and asked if there would be any action against the ruling party and its chief Amit Shah.

"BJP becomes the Super Election Commission' as they announce poll dates for Karnataka even before the EC.

"Credibility of EC is on test.

"Will EC now issue notice to BJP President, Amit Shah & register an FIR against BJP IT Head for leaking EC's confidential information?" Surjewala said on Twitter. 

10) BJP's IT cell head Amit Malviya tweets Karnataka poll dates before EC announcement: BJP's national Information and Technology cell head Amit Malviya on Tuesday tweeted about the dates of the Karnataka Assembly election before the Election Commission announced it through a press conference. Malviya seems to have deleted the tweet now, journalists questioned Malviya on how he got to know about the Karnataka poll dates before the Election Commission announced them.

"It will be investigated. Be assured that actions legally and administratively befitting will be taken" said Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat.

"Certain things may have leaked for which Election Commission will take appropriate action," Chief Election Commissioner added.

BJP becomes the ‘Super Election Commission’ as they announce poll dates for Karnataka even before the EC.

Credibility of EC is on test.

Will EC now issue notice to BJP President, Amit Shah & register an FIR against BJP IT Head for leaking EC’s confidential information?

— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) March 27, 2018

11) 'Congress dividing Hindus in Karnataka': Amit Shah on Tuesday accused the ruling Congress party in Karnataka of creating a rift between the Hindus. Addressing a public rally in Davanagere ahead of the state assembly election, Shah said, "On one hand their party President (Rahul Gandhi)talks about uniting Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, on the other hand, their Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) is creating a divide between Hindus. Such a major internal-conflict is not there in any other party." This comes after Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah accorded religious minority status to Lingayats, a move criticised by the Opposition leaders as an election gimmick.

Amit Shah asserted there was a "tsunami" in favour of his party, which will not only defeat the ruling Congress but also 'uproot' it in the coming assembly polls in Karnataka. "After Gujarat elections, this is my Karnataka trip. Extraordinary enthusiasm is witnessed here. Earlier I was saying it was a BJP wave. Now I say it's a BJP tsunami" Shah said. Coming to Karnataka a day after Congress president Rahul Gandhi ended his fourth round of visit, he said "Rahul Gandhi is touring. He has been saying that Congress government will come in Karnataka."

"Since 2014 see the election records," he added citing BJP's winning streak since coming to power at the centre.

12) Siddaramaiah govt has announced minority status to the Lingayat community: The Karnataka government recently accorded a minority status to the Lingayat community. This came days after Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led government accepted the suggestions of the Nagamohan Das committee to grant a separate religion status to the Lingayats. The decision, taken ahead of the state Assembly election, was criticised by the Veerashaiva Lingayat Samanvaya Samiti and termed as politically motivated. The Lingayats owe loyalty to the social reform movement of the 12th century, initiated by Basaveshwara. Living mostly in North Karnataka, this community is believed to constitute 17 per cent of the state's population which makes them a key political catchment for parties.

13) Yogi Adityanath attends BJP rally in Karnataka

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath attended a rally in Mangaluru, Karnataka. After the BJP's win in the assembly polls in the northeastern states, Adityanath had said that the 'lotus' will now bloom in Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha, thanks to the development-oriented policies of the prime minister and his good governance, and the guidance of the party chief Amit Shah.

14) Seven former JDS MLAs join Congress in Karnataka: In a blow to JD(S) headed by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, seven party rebel former MLAs on Sunday joined the ruling Congress in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi.

The rebel MLAs had resigned from Karnataka legislative assembly on Saturday, a day after they cross-voted in favour of the Congress candidates in the March 23 Rajya Sabha biennial election in the state. Zameer Ahmed Khan, Chaluvaraya Swamy, Iqbal Ansari, Balakrishna, Ramesh Bandisiddegowda, Bheema Nayak and Akhanda Srinivas Murthy were welcomed into the party fold by Gandhi at a public rally here in the poll-bound Karnataka.

Along with them, former JDS MLCs M C Nanaiah, Sarovar Srinivas and B Ramakrishna also joined the Congress.

The massive turnout in Mysuru, & every district travelled so far as part of the #JanaAashirwadaYatre, is testament to the public mood in the state.

Karnataka is sure to lead the way for a resurgence of democratic, secular & inclusive politics under @INCIndia across the country.

— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) March 26, 2018

15) Different regions and historical voting trends: In Karnataka, the 2008 assembly elections was won by BJP comfortably with 110 seats, whereas the 2013 assembly elections was swept by the Congress by winning 122 seats. The alternating results and trends may suggest that any party is capable of performing well throughout the state on their given day. Karnataka is divided into 30 districts and 4 administrative divisions and this geography of Karnataka is contained within 6 distinct regions. Different factors make these 6 regions conducive for one party whereas unfavourable to others.

Coastal region: The coastal region of Karnataka is a BJP stronghold

Old Mysore region - All the three primary political outfits the BJP, Congress and JD(S) have somewhat equal influence in the Old Mysore region of the state.

Bangalore region - In the Bangalore region the BJP has historically done well

Mumbai-Karnataka region - The Mumbai-Karnataka region is dominated by the Lingayat community who have their inclination towards the BJP.

Hyderabad-Karnataka region - The Hyderabad-Karnataka region of the state is also dominated by the Lingayats and Reddy brothers, both of which are traditionally BJP supporters. Thus BJP has an advantage here as well, but Mallikarjun Kharge a prominent backward class leader of the Congress and the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha belongs to the said region too. This will ensure advantage Congress on many seats which have sizeable votes from the backward community. 

Central Karnataka - In Central Karnataka both the BJP and the Congress are expecting to perform well.

To understand this better click HERE

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