Karnataka mandate has, at least at this juncture, shown that voters refused to fall to BJP’s communal, Hindu appeasing tactics. They have not fallen for NaMo charge that the Congress had busied itself in ‘Desh ko Todo’ initiatives. The dabbling with hijab issue too failed to increase its vote share. These are, if they are the evidence of secular, objective thinking on the part of the voters, the real gains for those who hate BJP strategy of communalization of politics.
I have rarely had the occasion to offer thanks and congratulations in this column-barring the advent of Rishi Sunak. But today I have to thank the Karnataka voters for the clear robust mandate in the Vidhan Sabha polls. They have handed over the state to Congress with a clear majority in that now it will be saved from the uncertainties and whims of the Janata Dal (JD) and the opportunism of its leader Deve Gouda who refuses to retire.
I also must thank them for the slap they have given to the taut and scoundrel Yediyurappa-the Karnataka version of Amit Shah at the national level- and his conspiracy to run the state like a family fiefdom with money, muscle, and total disregard for democratic norms. Power at any cost and with any means has been the formula of the two. They had engineered the toppling of the Kumarswamy government by asking 17 JD MLAs to resign and bring back Yediyurappa. I have a feeling that the decent in BJP (if any) must be relieved to see the ignominy of him.
Moreover the Karnataka mandate has put the JD in place by taking away its chance to endanger the incoming Congress ministry. They also did well to defeat 9 of the 14 ex-JD MLAs the BJP had fielded in this election. Of the two BJP prominents to switch over to Congress on the eve of the polls they have defeated one: some balancing act?
Sadly, the congratulations end with this.
Earlier, I had felt that I must congratulate Congress and Rahul for their sober reaction to this positive bolt from the blue- no party had received this kind of mandate for thirty years. I felt that the Congress was yet to wake from the daze and awe of the vox populi. Rahul’s statement - Love has triumphed over hate - showed that he is still not out of the romantic euphoria of Bharat Jodo which, undoubtedly was a personal achievement. But it is naïve to suppose that Love has a role in Realpolitik.
In fact, it seems to be the hate for the shameless Yediyurappa-Shaha driven opportunism of the infamous 17 JD MLAs that turned the voters’ minds. BJP’s vote share has not fallen but the Congress has been successful in getting 10 per cent more votes-naturally of the JD.
The Congress high command at first showed some prudence and maturity by letting Kharge handle the n issue of who would be the next CM. Kharge knows who is what in Karnataka. Such a strong mandate would generally have encouraged a multiple choice since victory has a hundred fathers. But since Congress never dreamed of it the contest appeared between just two-the elder Siddaramayya and next generation Shiv Kumar- and could be easily decided by promoting the former to CM and subduing the latter by making him Deputy CM. This was, according to reliable sources, how things stood till last
Monday. Preparations of a grand oath taking ceremony began in Bangalore. May they live happily for five years, I wished fondly…
I too got rather over expecting and thought that if the two could dismantle the Yediyurappa-Shah power machine of first take money; then take any, take many- they would truly serve the voters of Karnataka who could not have served their state better!
It was agony to watch the typical Congress style farce over selection of the CM unfolded since Monday. All powers were given to Kharge and initially he too thought so and floated a compromise formula between the two contenders. It was said that official announcement was a mere formality. But all cows had not come home then. Next day the infamous Congress High Command was at centre stage with Shiv Kumar taking an ‘all or nothing’ stand. You don’t have to be Prashant Kishore to see that he could not have done so without the support of Soniya/Rahul. This is how the Nehru-Gandhi family has handled Congress for generations: empower workers by giving them party posts: keep them shaky by encouraging dissidents. The action shifted to Delhi and is still there as I pen this.
Worse still, the typical Congress style muck too has surfaced. Allegations of Siddaramayya’s had in toppling of Kumarswamy are floated in the political air. On the other hand, the postponement of CBI inquiry into Shiv Kumar’s disproportionate assets has hit the columns…
Congress Culture is back with a vengeance…
I feel for voters of Karnataka who must be wondering like the non-pigs in Animal Farm. Whether they did bring a change…
Moreover, a clear mandate is a nightmare for the analyst and whether this is the beginning of the end for the NaMo-Shah-Yogi gang is naturally too early to predict though some analysts will be tempted to do so. Let us wait. Four states are scheduled to have Vidhan Sabha elections in remaining months of 2023. Of the four, three, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana will certainly throw out pointers (in that order) to the next Lok Sabha polls to be held a year from now. Mizoram is admittedly a small fray.
However, the real question to be asked before the next general elections is that is there any significant difference in the style of politics of the Right (BJP) and the middle inclining to Left (Congress) in our democracy? BJP and Congress may speak differently on cultural issues but on the issue of poverty-or economic disparity if you will- their language too is sickeningly similar. Both assure the poor that the state will provide for them as was evident in the last Lok Sabha polls. Empowerment of the people at bottom of the economy-farmers and farm labour, unorganized industrial labour, women and other weaker sections is still a distant dream as their impoverishment continues. The State as a political entity refuses to drastically change economic policy. Become poor, be jobless or underpaid, don’t dream of standing on your feet and doing better. Come to the State as beggars and we shall see that you survive. As the population keeps soaring-we are already world number one-the 21st century vote banks of the State created poor too will be on the rise. This will create a feudal India-where rich remained rich and poor stayed poor- plugged with all evils of a society plagued with disparity and inequality. As things stand the hopes of change in populist policies be it the BJP or the Congress- are dismally poor.
Karnataka mandate has, at least at this juncture, shown that voters refused to fall to BJP’s communal, Hindu appeasing tactics. They have not fallen for NaMo charge that the Congress had busied itself in ‘Desh ko Todo’ initiatives. The dabbling with hijab issue too failed to increase its vote share. These are, if they are the evidence of secular, objective thinking on the part of the voters, the real gains for those who hate BJP strategy of communalization of politics. Admittedly, all political parties in the country are engaged in politics of caste but the BJP’s guilt is more palpable as it aims at a divide between two major communities spread all over the country. No society can rid itself of disparity of any kind in such a situation.
The worse part of our present-day politics is that the BJP think tank (if they have one) will refuse to learn a lesson the Karnataka vote. Even as I write this, they must be busy looking for another sensitive communal nerve which could sway the voters in the next state and national elections.
Most analysts have overlooked another subtle dimension of the remarkable Congress win. South Indians, in general, have always had a Nehru-family fixation. After Rajaji’s with drawl from active politics, Nehru was the heart throb of south India till the Chinese blunder of Krishna Menon. Even in the post Emergency 1977 polls the South had saved Indira from total oblivion, they also sent her back to parliament in 1978 from Chikmagalur despite George Fernandes taking that constituency by storm. Soniya later won from Andhra Pradesh. That is why Bharat Jodo must have struck a chord in the Karnataka voters’ hearts.
Last but not the least: I saw a picture of a Karnataka CM probable bowing and bending before Rahul in one of the newspapers. Same thing happened when his Dad swept the Lok Sabha polls in 1984. All the good, the bad and the ugly crawled before him. Being new to Indian style of obeisance Rajiv took everything for real and believed in his invincibility…
The rest is history, known to all...
Will it / won’t it repeat?
- Vinay Hardikar
(The writer has been working in the public sphere of Maharashtra for the last five decades. His versatile personality has several dimensions, but the primary ones remain to be that of an established writer, journalist, editor, critic, activist, and teacher.)
Tags: Politics Election commission of india elections electioncommission news vote congress narendramodi india electionresults electionday eci politics nationalvoters bjp rahulgandhi soniagandhi amitshah political insta dailynews result january rss dkshivkumar राजकारण डी के शिवकुमार कर्नाटक निवडणूक निकाल राहुल गांधी विधानसभा कॉंग्रेस भाजप नरेंद्र मोदी अमित शहा येडियुरप्पा विनय हर्डीकर Load More Tags