In old-style rather than AAP politics in Karnataka, Congress matches BJP

There is no doubting the fact that the Aam Aadmi Party with its victory in Delhi has managed to instill a sense of optimism in politics among the disaggregated urban middle class. Even traditional politicians who have built their political lives on the bedrock of patronage of voters aggregated on the basis of poverty or caste grudgingly admit that AAP is doing something to politics in India.

In this context one would imagine that traditional political parties will try to straddle the worlds of both the educated, self-sufficient, urban, new-economy voter who is primarily concerned with issues like development, security, corruption and economic progress and the poor, backward, old economy voter who is still primarily concerned with food, clothing, shelter and identity issues.

However, going by recent developments in Karnataka involving preparations for the Lok Sabha polls by the two biggest political parties in the country, it is quite evident that traditional politics is not going away anytime soon. If the Congress has brought into the state cabinet two political leaders who are heavyweights on the traditional count but weakened by corruption records, the BJP has taken back a former chief minister for his sway over a section of the society despite a graft cloud.

The Congress inducted Vokkaliga leader D K Shivakumar and Muslim leader Roshan Baig. The perceived ability of the two leaders in mass political mobilisation outweighed the squeaky clean image of the past eight months that the Congress had carefully cultivated under Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Congress insiders admit the party was forced to take in the two for their powers in hustling men and money considered crucial to the party's fortunes in the parliamentary polls.

The story with the BJP welcoming B S Yeddyurappa back into its fold is the same. His political stature as a Lingayat leader has diminished the BJP's once stringent view of corruption charges against the former chief minister despite the party vying with AAP for the anti-corruption political space. Yeddyurappa is seen as carrying enough punch to ensure a repeat of the BJP's performance in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls (the party won 16 and 19 of the 28 seats respectively).

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