Karnataka’s assembly elections was the mother of all battles for the ruling Congress headed by the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the rival BJP headed by the Prime Minister NarendraModi, party president Amit Shah and the BJP CM candidate B S Yeddyurappa. For the Congress, it was one of the two big states ruled by the party at that time. The Congress wanted to show that it could not only retain its state, but also lead the opposition alliance in the coming Lok Sabha elections. The BJP was determined to capture the entry door to the south to prove wrong the deep assumption that it was a party of the Hindi belt and in the south it has no visible footprint. After gaining a wafer thin majority in the home state of the Prime Minister Gujarat and facing defeats in Lok Sabha and assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the BJP had to show in Karnataka, its grass roots support and negate the common assumption that PM’s popularity was on the decline. Both parties failed to come up to their mark, but where the BJP fell from its moral pedestal by showing ugly hunger for power, the Congress showed its strategic acumen.
More than anything else, Siddaramaiah’s decision to give Lingayat a minority tag was a wrong conclusion. The majority of the community did not like it and voted against the Congress. The Congress CM was woefully surprised that his welfare schemes could not convince the voters. They were easily taken for a ride by the Prime Minister who presented the Congress government in a very poor light. This column already discussed last week the PM’s campaign that was based on falsehood and baseless charges. The state has also repeated the history that no ruling party could retain power since 1984. The Congress could not convert its highest percentage of vote that is 38 per cent and had to be content with 78 seats while the BJP with 36.2 per cent votes gained 104 seats. While popular base of the Congress cannot be challenged, the loss in the share of seats should not be defended on this or that pretext. BJP’s logic that their right to rule the state was denied by the Congress is misguiding and against the democratic system in our country.
When the post poll alliance is allowed, no one should raise finger at the Congress which made an offer to the JD(S) to form the government. What is illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic is to engineer defection from other parties. The BJP openly made efforts to indulge in horse-trading and reportedly offered crores of rupees to purchase MLAs from other parties. Only for this number game, the Governor blessed the BJP with 15 days when the party itself sought only a week. It shows that the nominated Governors are simply playing havoc on democratic principles showing their unabashed bias towards their political parties. Now it is the BJP. The Supreme Court, just like in the past, came to the rescue and asked the one-day Chief Minister to prove his majority the very next day. The Congress and the JD(S) ensured that their legislators were safeguarded from poaching. When Amit Shah said he was sure to show the majority, he simply meant he would succeed in purchasing the MLAs from the Congress and the JD(S).
The Congress indicated that its main aim was to stop the BJP from forming a new government. This strategy is the foreword to the unfolding story of the coming Lok Sabha elections. The opposition parties would cobble together a national alliance against the BJP and at the state level also such coalition will come up to fight the communal agenda of the Prime Minister and his close aide Amit Shah to subvert the constitution by paving the way for Hindu Rashtra. What the Congress did in Karnataka is a pointer for the Lok Sabha elections. If the BJP or NDA emerged as a single largest group, the Congress would play a key role to keep the BJP away from power. The swearing-in ceremony of Kumaraswamy was the demonstration of the determination of the opposition.