Narendra Modi aiming to get Karnataka win to secure a beachhead in the south

Vastavam web: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has thrown himself into a campaign to win a tight election in Karnataka this weekend and secure a beachhead in the south, ahead of his own re-election bid next year.Karnataka, home to India’s Silicon Valley capital of Bengaluru, is the first big state electing an assembly this year to be followed by three others in the final test of popularity before a general election due next May.

It has held power before in Karnataka and Modi is addressing rallies to win back the state from the main opposition Congress party and build momentum for the general election.“Now that the countdown has begun for 2019, a victory or defeat in Karnataka is bound to influence the battle of perceptions,” said political columnist Neerja Chowdhury.Defeat, on the other hand, would re-energise Congress under Rahul Gandhi, the fifth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which is trying to exploit dissatisfaction over a lack of jobs for young people and rising fuel prices.

On Tuesday, Modi, by far the main vote-getter for the BJP, was back on the stump, addressing rallies across the state and vowing to make a militarily and economically strong India.The election is on Saturday and the votes will be counted on May 15 with the result declared that day.

Opinion polls have forecast no clear winner between the Congress and the BJP and suggested that a regional group, the Janata Dal (S), may emerge as kingmaker in the 225-member state assembly.A spokesman for the regional group said it is urging voters to reject the two main parties and let it rule the state on its own.