Test case

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 May 2018 12:04:04

THAT the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got eight seats less than the majority-mark in Karnataka in the Legislative Assembly elections is certainly an important detail, but what is of greater importance is that the Congress party got a terrible setback from which it may take aeons to emerge. The meaning of this development is simple: The Congress party has lost one of its last major citadels in the country. Its claim to be an alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party, thus, stands almost negated by force of history. Whatever happens to the process of Government-formation in Karnataka, meaning of Karnataka metaphor is clear -- the Congress party got a setback which it might compensate for through the backdoor. Only time will tell, however, which way the balance of power in Karnataka tilts. 

Technically, it should be the BJP that should be invited to form Government as it is the single largest party in the State. Its majority can be proven subsequently on the floor of the House. But another technicality is that the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) also have the combined numbers which the Governor would like to pay attention to. When there is a hung House, when there is a fractured mandate, such confusing things do happen in a representative democracy. Let alone the technicality, the actuality of politics is that the people of Karnataka have rejected the Congress party and its rule for the past some years. The reason of this rejection is mis-governance loaded down with corruption of high order. The Congress party’s propaganda machine tried its best to protect its turf. It employed all types of tactics, some of which were clearly undesirable. Yet, the tide of popular vote went against the Congress party simply because it never respected the people’s will, in a similar manner as it did in other States in recent times.

Let us not lay much emphasis on the fact of who forms the Government in Karnataka. Instead, let us try to understand what actually happened in the State. The most critical factor that played a very major role in the State was Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi who turned the tide in his party’s favour the moment he entered the election campaign. The mammoth attendance at his rallies showed how strong his appeal is, what kind of a charm he exudes with his presence and oratory. He came, he saw, and he defeated the Congress.

When the election campaign began about three weeks ago, the language which the Congress used was plainly arrogant. Nobody could touch our Government, the Congress campaigners led by its President Mr. Rahul Gandhi stressed. No doubt, their propaganda machine was working overtime and the party did demonstrate some sprightliness in its campaign. Mr. Rahul Gandhi tried to be at his best, and even went to the extent of day-dreaming that he might be the Prime Minister of India post-2019 Lok Sabha elections, unmindful that the whole nation was laughing at him, oblivious to the fact that he hardly has the right set of virtues and values to hold the coveted post.
Cumulatively, the Congress campaign started proving counter-productive in time, much in sharp contrast with the BJP’s very focused effort to dominate the electoral scene. The results prove beyond measure, that the Congress campaign failed whereas the BJP’s campaign met with a success on expected lines. That its numbers seem to fall short by a small margin is only a matter of detail, but its victory stands very clearly pronounced. The extent of Congress party’s failure is clear from the fact that Chief Minister Mr. Siddaramaiah lost one of the two seats he contested polls from. As against that, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate (and former Chief Minister) Mr. B.S. Yeddyurappa proved his mettle in clear terms, demonstrating a better grip of the scene by his party than did the Congress.

The Karnataka elections have to be deciphered only from a national perspective -- from the point of view of how the Congress has been losing its citadel after citadel for the past years, and how the defeat in Karnataka has harmed it beyond words. For, this was one election that tested the leadership prowess of Mr. Rahul Gandhi as Congress President. This was one election in which the authenticity of all the political rhetoric of the Congress party was tested and proven a failure. This was one battle of ballots in which the Congress lost whatever political edge it was left with. Karnataka proved that the party does not have the wherewithal to stall the BJP’s onward march. In the next some time, it will be clear as to who forms the Government ultimately in Karnataka. But more important than that detail is the manner in which the BJP achieved the annihilation of the Congress party’s political grip of the State of Karnataka. The Modi magic worked. The Shah strategy worked. The cadres’ discipline made the difference. And in sharp contrast, the Congress party demonstrated its weakness on all fronts. This is the actual meaning of the Karnataka elections.

Though there is no comparison between the two, the nation came to know once again the difference between the personalities of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and Congress President Mr. Rahul Gandhi. If Mr. Rahul Gandhi was an embodiment of how a leader must not conduct himself in election campaign, Mr. Narendra Modi was an epitome of a great campaigner. The way he led the BJP’s campaign in the last phases showed what kind of political prowess the man has built in himself and in his organisation.

In a way, the Karnataka battle of ballot can be taken as a forerunner of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. For, it demonstrated how the BJP is going to assert itself in the electoral arena. And it also demonstrated, in contrast, how other parties would conduct themselves, the local components like the Janata Dal (S) headed by former Prime Minister Mr. H.D. Deve Gowda notwithstanding. Karnataka was a great test case, so to say, a forerunner of the clash of 2019.