An engaging sideshow of the ongoing campaign in Karnataka has been the sharp, at times personal, Twitter barbs exchanged between Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the man who hopes to displace him, the BJP's BS Yeddyurrappa.
A recent example would be along these lines:But for all the rivalry, both men share an unusual predicament - while both have been declared chief ministerial candidates by their respective parties, an impressive performance may not necessarily guarantee either a chance to rule the state.
The main reason for this uncertainty is, of course, the increasing possibility that Karnataka may throw up a hung verdict, with neither the BJP nor the Congress getting a majority
BS Yeddyurappa tries to pacify supporters of his son BY Vijayendra who was not given a BJP ticket.
In the event, the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S) of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda may demand a say in who gets to be chief minister in exchange for his support.
Mr Gowda's animus to the Karnataka Chief Minister is well known. He recently described Mr Siddaramaiah to this correspondent as the "worst chief minister Karnataka has seen".
He claimed Mr Siddaramiah "is always trying to demolish the image of Kumaraswamy (Mr Gowda's son)."
Siddaramaiah (left) campaigns with Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Karnataka.
Their rivalry goes back to the time when Mr Siddaramaiah, considered Mr Gowda's protege in the Janata Dal, broke away from the party to join the Congress in 2005, a 'betrayal' that still rankles Mr Gowda. The break-up was triggered by Mr Gowda promoting his own son, HD Kumarasawmy , to centrestage, a spot that Mr Siddaramaiah had been led to believe was his.
If Karnataka's political circles are to be believed, Mr Gowda may be more amenable to support as chief minister one of the sizeable phalanx of Mr Siddaramaiah's rivals within the Congress, which include the state Energy Minister DK Shivakumar, Karnataka Congress president G Parameshwara, and leader of opposition in Parliament, Mallikarjun Kharge.
The JD(S) veto may also apply (although it is believed to a lesser extent) to Mr Yeddyurrappa, should the BJP require Mr Gowda's support.
The BJP leader, however, has to fight off a more formidable challenge from within.
BS Yeddyurappa with party lawmaker B Sriramulu filing his nomination for the Karnataka elections 2018.
While he is today the official face of the BJP campaign, the journey towards that point has been thorny, having much to do with Mr Yeddyurrappa's legacy as a chief minister who had to step down because of charges of corruption, as well as his bitter break with the BJP to form his own party in 2013.
Eventually, realpolitik forced the BJP's hand a year later in opting for his return, and nomination as contender for the top job: in the last election, the 10% vote share garnered by Mr Yeddyurappa's party is widely held to have contributed to the BJP's rout.
And yet, the embers of discontent still smoulder between the parent and the prodigal, leading many to speculate that Mr Yeddyurappa is the 'front' for the party, to be replaced once he delivers a winning result.
A manifestation of the simmering distrust surfaced when his son, BY Vijayendra, was not given a ticket to contest against the Chief Minister's son from a seat in Mysore district. That decision, reportedly conveyed to Mr Yeddyurappa by the high command moments before he was set to file his son's nomination, sparked public anger and protests in the Mysore region by supporters of the BJP leader.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah campaigns in Chamundeshwari in Karnataka.
The exact reason for dropping Vijayendra remains shrouded in mystery; a more openly-cited theory is that the BJP wanted to avoid giving tickets to a father-son combination.
But a privately-discussed theory is that in the eventuality of the party needing to drop Mr Yeddyurappa in the aftermath of the election, dropping Vijayendra as a candidate removes him as a prospective replacement (and thereby rules out the possibility of Mr Yeddyurappa governing by proxy).
However, neither leader may quietly accede to an internal putsch by their respective parties. Both are mass leaders, and, crucially, have had considerable say in the selection of candidates, an important source of political leverage.
For now, though, both would simply hope for a clean majority, an outcome that would settle the question of who will wear the crown in Karnataka without political high-jinks.(Sreenivasan Jain is Managing Editor NDTV 24x7 and anchors the ground-report show Truth-Vs-Hype)Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
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