Karnataka: BJP Pays Dearly for Voter’s Disillusion
BJP has come to power at the Centre (and Gujarat) on six main objectives of firstly, having a charismatic leadership; secondly, works on its Development agendas; thirdly, robust electoral strategies, fourthly the Hindutva plank; fifthly, Clean governance and last but not the least, efficient administration. Subsequently at the State level too, they largely applied the above principles with the face of Charismatic Modi. In the many state elections, wherever any of those principles were ignored by the ruling BJP, they made them vulnerable and the net result of losing Himachal and Karnataka is before all. There are some collateral issues too that play significant roles in electoral politics. The first and foremost among such issues is setting of narratives on the emerging issues and the second, exploiting the opponent’s weaknesses. Let us analyse these issues in the context of the Karnataka elections. The results of the Karnataka election 2023 are out.
In Karnataka, there is a historical fact that from the time an alternative political party, “Janta Party” formed the government in 1983, no govt has retained power in consecutive elections. Earlier it had been the musical char between Congress and Jantadal till 2007 when BJP got their mandate for the first time. Even thereafter, the musical chair continued with no party winning consecutive elections. BJP had a golden chance to break that jinx this year but they blundered on many fronts.
BJP in Karnataka 2023 election didn’t have a charismatic State leadership as CM face. Yediyurappa was a strong Lingayat face but calling him charismatic will be wrong. Further, he had the taint of corruption that had sent him earlier to jail. This time, after he was side-lined, he batted only for his son who lacked his type of appeal. In addition, another prominent lingayat face in the form of Jagdish Shettar betrayed BJP, to join Congress. This time, Bommai govt did have many things to show on its development plank, most being that of the Union govt (read “Karnataka Electoral Conundrum 2023” https://articles.thecounterviews.com/articles/karnataka-electoral-conundrum-2023/). Although Bommai was known for his pro-farmer image, he and the star campaigners of BJP failed to project his achievements in their poll-campaigns. While on one hand, BJP government in the state was unable to provide a clean governance, the administration whether municipal corporations or the PWD ushered plenty of public woes, be it potholes on roads or the chocked drainage system. Although they tried hard in later months to boost its image, it was too little, too late to change the public opinion. Thirdly, the poll strategies of Nadda seems to be shaky to have side-lined prominent faces of the party. It is worth noting that Nadda has lost a significant numbers of state elections incl his own home state. The positive takes on victories in N-E States are mixed with only Tripura being an exception.
On the Hindutva front too, Karnataka BJP has not fare well. Many of the party functionary murdered by the radical Muslim groups, BJP could neither prevent those murders nor bring all the culprits to books. In this Karnataka election 2023, more than Congress doing something positive to win, it seems that the public anger against BJP did most of the damages. It is apparent from the fact that BJP lost nearly 10% of its vote share from the 2018 election. It is a worrying development because with time passing, BJP expects its vote share to rise in all states owing to its development plank and pro-poor work, but contrary to it, it lost the vote share.
Corruptions have marred all Karnataka govts since1980s. BJP with their perceptions of being clean was not expected to be involved in any type of corruption but it did happen. Yediyurappa did go to jail in his past stint of CM and the corruption in State govt continued unabated. In the present BJP under CM Bommai, if a BJP leader had to commit suicide due to inaction of both State and Central leadership and that too on a matter pertaining to corruption in the state government, it became a burning issue. It also made many BJP voters a disillusioned lot that the Congress party exploited the fullest to taint BJP as 40% commission govt. All Congress leaders dwelled much on this issue in all their campaigns and sought a change of the govt on this single issue.
While setting narratives is concerned, Rahul Gandhi is good at it, often by effectively mixing and peddling lies. Even though inflation in the nation is under check and unemployment in Karnataka among the least (1.6%), opposition politicians (primarily Congress) have been able to blow it out of proportion without any supporting evidence though. His repeated narratives of BJP being anti-poor, anti-OBC, anti-dalit have frequently pushed Modi govt on the back foot in their past campaigns too Modi and his campaigners often failed to disprove Rahul Gandhi’s false narratives as lies. It is also because all representative political parties of the opposition group are against BJP even if for their own political survival. As a result, there has been a growing chorus against BJP giving an impression of all not being well.
It is also a fact that Bommai himself didn’t have a single scam taint on himself vis-à-vis plenty of scams on Siddaramaiah’s last Congress govt. However, Congress leadership covered it well and effectively highlighted the BJP as 40% commission govt. BJP campaigners lagged behind in countering them which resulted in losing significant numbers of BJP voters as well as the other fence sitters. On the other hand, BJP campaigners have failed repeatedly to convince the voters of the fact that Congress is a party led by corrupts and scamsters; both at centre and state, with most of them out on bail. They also failed to convince the voters not to trust Congress’s false poll-promises, with burning examples of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
The rainbow of star campaigners of BJP incl PM Modi, HM Shah, party prez Nadda and CM Yogi tried their best to exploit the anti-Hindu communal agendas of Congress but the lack of a State charismatic leader and leadership inactions against 40% corruption allegation did enough harm. State BJP couldn’t come out of it. Possibly the BJP campaigners were complacent in not to highlight the key issues at stake in the state. The result is before us, BJP having lost the electoral battle to Congress. The State BJP unit has largely to blame itself of having lost an excellent chance to impress upon the voters to break the jinx of the govt changes with every election.
The outcome of the Karnataka election is for the concerned political parties to analyse. It is for them to dwell at length the reasons of the outcome. However, it is also important for all nationalists to ponder if this outcome of Karnataka repeats at the union level in 2024.
Karnataka results sets a worrying sign for all Indians in the future. Will a party of scamsters (like Congress), often standing with anti-nationals (like tukde-tukde group and radicals & terrorists) be able to influence voters in 2024? If that happens, it will be a tragedy for the nation which has been striving hard to become a force to reckon in the coming years and decades. Will Congress be able to take the nation backwards with their narratives set on false premises? It is for all of us to ponder. However, it is quite possible that if all political parties of corrupts (like Congress, RJD, TMC, NCP) and anti-nationals (like Cong, SP, RJD, TMC, AIMIM, ML, CPI) unite only for the purpose of defeating Modi-led BJP, the results of Karnataka tell us of it being a possibility. It is a danger sign for all nationals.