In the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Karnataka, with 28 seats, is a crucial battleground. The ruling Congress government maintains its stronghold and is expecting to add a significant chunk of seats to help grow its national count. The BJP, with its coalition with JDS on the other hand, is hoping to work its magic to replicate its 2019 seat share.

The Congress in Karnataka, a year ago in the Assembly polls, stormed back to power with a clear majority in 136 out of 224 constituencies. High anti-incumbency in the state and its five welfare guarantees’ (Gruha Lakshmi, Gruha Jyothi, Shakthi, Anna Bhagya and Yuvanidhi) had helped turn their fortunes.

 On the back of its recent victory, the grand old party aims to win a majority of seats, and in turn, contribute highly to national count. Its leader Siddaramaiah’s pitch this election season is his party walks the talk, - naavu nudidanthe nadiddeve - he boasts about the implementation of the guarantee, and promises to keep delivering on these promises.

Congress has announced 24 candidates so far, with ticket allotment being aligned to “dynasty” candidates, which it received criticism for; 11 of the 24 seats are being fielded by close relatives of party favourites. Priyanka Jarakiholi, daughter of Satish Jarakiholi; Mrunal Hebbalkar, son of Lakshmi Hebbalkar; and Sagar Khandre, son of Eshwar Khandre, are some of the examples. The party is strictly tasking its leaders to score a win, with seats being allotted to their families.

The party’s recent attack on the Center over the issue of tax devolution is also the arsenal being used for election. Congress argues that while BJP in Karnataka will never oppose its high command at the Centre, Congress will fight for its fair share and claims to “get justice” for the people of the state.

Former Lok Sabha member of Congress VS Ugrappa told businessline, “We are confident of winning maximum seats. The five guarantees have benefited everybody in the state. We have delivered on our promises, whereas BJP in the Centre and the State has failed to do so. This is a fight between ‘Vachana Palana’ (those who kept their promise) and ‘Vachana Brashta’ (those who broke their promise). The people of Karnataka are happy with our implementation, and the BJP’s criticism against us has no solid grounds and isn’t factually backed.”

BJP, on the other hand, since its clean 25 of 28 seat sweep in 2019, on the back of the ‘Modi Factor’ has slid back. After its loss in the Assembly polls, the party is trying to build its strength back. This time, it has strategised to team with State regional party Janata Dal (Secular). The coalition strategy may benefit both parties, as their strengths are complementary. With JDS contesting from Mandya, Hassan, and Kolar, BJP gets a stronghold in southern Karnataka, where it has historically been weak.

MG Mahesh, BJP Karnataka spokesperson, told businessline, “We are confident of winning all 28 seats this time, as pro-incumbency will play well for the Modi government, after witnessing its performance in the last 10 years. The current Congress government is inefficient and incompetent; their guarantees have derailed; and people are already fed up with the dispensation. Adding advantage this time will be coalition with JDS, which will help us get the Vokkaliga voter base.”