Rajat Sharma


akbThere was good news for Congress for the first time since 2018, when the voters of Karnataka gave a clear mandate to the party. In the 224-seat Assembly, Congress won 136 seats, 56 more than last time, while BJP lost 40 seats. It managed to win only 65 seats. Though BJP lost in the numbers game, there has been no decline in the party’s voting percentage. It got 36 pc votes, the same that it got five years ago. Congress vote percentage rose by six per cent, out of which five pc votes came from Janata Dal(S). This was the main reason why the Congress never dreamt it would win so many seats, while the BJP never imagined it would face such a defeat. This time, the Congress camp was alert, unlike last time. It was ready to face any situation, its leaders had chartered aircraft ready and they had booked luxury resorts to pack off their MLAs, if the election threw up a hung assembly. The main question: Why did BJP lose so heavily? The reason lies in the statements of Congress leaders, after the results were out. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said, the victory was the result of team work. Till now, BJP used to gain from infighting within Congress, but this time Congress benefited from infighting within BJP. Congress leader Siddaramiah said, BJP lost because of the ’40 per cent commision sarkara’, the label that Congress stuck on its rival. BJP could not wash off that label. Till now, BJP used to corner Congress on the issue of corruption. Another Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, ‘we won because of the five ‘guarantees’ that we gave to the people.’ BJP was caught napping as it expected votes from beneficiaries of all welfare measures taken by the Centre. Priyanka Gandhi said, ‘we got votes because we raised people’s issues’. It is true because BJP raised emotional issues and kept its vote bank intact. Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel said, ‘we won because of the blessings of Lord Bajrangbali’. BJP had raised the issue of “insult” to Lord Bajrangbali and had expected consolidation of Hindu votes, but it had adverse effect. Muslim voters fully backed the Congress to give it a resounding win. Congress leader D K Shiv Kumar said, when he was in jail, he had vowed to defeat BJP. On the other hand, there was lack of passion and enthusiasm among the BJP leaders and workers to defeat the Congress. BJP failed to get votes from those who were undecided. Most of the JD(S) votes went to Congress. It is also a fact that BJP waited till the last moment expecting a hung assembly that could have opened up the gates of holiday resorts, and the party expected to form a government, by hook or by crook. The people’s mandate was clear. Already, the race has begun for the post of CM in Congress camp. Siddaramaiah is a former CM and one of the tallest Congress leaders in Karnataka. His stake for the post is strong, and he immediately flew by a chartered flight to Bengaluru soon after his election from Varuna was declared. But state Congress chief D K Shiv Kumar is also in the race. He won the assembly election eight times, and micro-managed the entire party election campaign. He toiled hard and his stake is also strong. In Karnataka, Congress leaders knew that the BJP cannot win the elections only with the help of Modi. That is why, Congress leaders did not make personal attacks on Modi and instead raised the “40 per cent commission” and inefficiency issues. Congress managed its factions and internal squabbles carefully, and leaders of all factions joined hands. On the other hand, BJP leaders were busy in infighting, several of them were unhappy for being denied tickets, Yeddyurappa and Bommai tried to prove their own supremacy, the state government’s performance was below average, and the party could not reply effectively to the charges of corruption. To sideline corruption and inefficiency issues, BJP took the help of Modi. Despite his best efforts, Modi’s campaign could not save the party from defeat. By the time, Modi began his campaign, the people of Karnataka had already made up their minds. The common people were unhappy with the BJP government in Karnataka. BJP used its RSS network of booth management and ‘panna pramukhs’. Its organizing secretary B L Santhosh hails from Karnataka and he had full trust in his machinery. BJP workers worked, but lacked the verve to win. Like the Congress, they did not make this election a life-or-death issue. The result: people of Karnataka gave the Congress a decisive mandate. Rahul and Priyanka played their role in the party’s victory. Credit also goes to D K Shiv Kumar, Siddaramaiah and Mallikarjun Kharge. Let’s hope this brotherhood will be evident when the chief minister is elected in the legislative party. For the BJP, it is now time to develop a new leadership, prepare a new ground by coming out from old webs.


BJP got good news from Uttar Pradesh, where it made a clean sweep of all 17 posts of mayors in the urban local body elections. The party’s ally, Apna Dal (Sonelal) also won both the assembly byelections from Swar and Chhanbey. The Swar seat was vacant after local SP strongman Azam Khan’s son Abdullah Azam was disqualified. BJP’s ally Apna Dal fielded a Muslim, Shafiq Ahmed Ansari, who defeated the SP candidate Anuradha Chauhan by a margin on 8,724 votes. In Chhanbey, Apna Dal candidate won by a margin of 9.587 votes. Though the urban local body polls were purely on local issues, the stakes were high. Had the BJP lost, Yogi Adityanath could have faced problems from his rivals in the party. Yogi has once again proved that no matter how much caste based leaders are angry with him, the common people are still behind him. By improving law and order, ending criminal gangs, and opening up new avenue of progress, Yogi has brought benefits to BJP in all the elections that it fought during the last seven years. The local bodies poll results are alarming for Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. BJP, for the first time, tested waters by fielding Muslim candidates who won. This could cause worry for Samajwadi Party, which had been traditionally backed by Muslim voters. In some localities, SP candidates stood third. The defeat of SP candidate in Azam Khan’s bailiwick Rampur, is also an alarming signal for the party. As far as Yogi is concerned, the chief minister led the election campaign from the front and put his stamp of supremacy. The people of UP have now a ‘triple engine’ system in place. The main challenge that Yogi will face is how to fulfill the aspirations of the people.

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