Karnataka 2023 Assembly elections
Indira Gandhi had reacted, rather cryptically, to a journalist who asked her how she felt after her 1980 Parliamentary elections’ victory trouncing the Janata Party, saying, ‘the whole world loves the winner.’ Of course, she did not say that the loser is an orphan. After yesterday’s unprecedented victory of the Congress in the Karnataka Assembly elections, the whole world, or the whole Karnataka, may not love Congress, but BJP seems to have become an orphan.
It was a clean sweep for Congress with an absolute majority. If there was to be a wafer thin margin, Congress would have certainly faced a repeat of ‘Operation Kamala’ like in the past. Now it is rather impossible. However, the real winner is the VOTER. And another orphan is the JD(S).
The BJP government of 2019, following the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government formed after the 2018 Assembly elections, was born of sin, political adultery, following the infamous ‘Operation Kamala.’
This time the JD(S) thought it could be third time lucky by occupying the Chief Minister’s chair in the event of a fractured mandate as in the past two Assembly elections. But sadly for JD(S) it was not to be. Thus it is left at the end of the political corridor as an orphan.
However, worse is the plight of BJP, post election. Indeed pathetic. But it is a self-inflicted wound. A political harakiri. It may have to spend the next five year’s licking its wounds like a wounded tiger. It happened between 2013 and 2018 when Siddharamaiah completed a full term of five years unchallenged and unquestioned even by the Congress High Command which had already become effete like the last days of Mughal rule.
This time we will have to see who will be the CM and whether Chief Minister’s position is shared between the two contenders — Siddharamaiah, the Opposition Leader in the previous government and D.K. Shivakumar, the KPCC President. In all fairness, Siddharamaiah having already enjoyed the position of CM for a full term, this time D.K. Shivakumar should be given that honour. After all, there is a precedence of S.M. Krishna being made the Chief Minister in 1999, by virtue of his being the KPCC President, for a full term. It was so when Indira Gandhi made D. Devaraja Urs, the Chief Minister.
But politics is an art of possibilities and a game of thrones. Ambition for power is what drives a politician. And Sidharamaiah is a hardcore politician, politics oozing out from every pore of his skin, so also his rival for CM’s office D.K. Shivakumar. That decision, of course, will be left, not to the Congress Legislature Party as it should normally and legally be, but to the Congress High Command. That is the tradition in India among all the political parties. No question please.
And there will indeed be a question that will be discussed in the Congress — who is the architect of the victory? Already that honour is placed at the feet of Rahul Gandhi. And he will decide about the Chief Minister. It is generally spoken that while madam Sonia Gandhi is disposed towards Siddharamaiah, Rahul Gandhi is for D.K. Shivakumar. This question may finally be answered by asking the two to share the office. Again the question will arise: Who will be the first one to occupy the throne? After all the pomp and power can be seen and enjoyed in the ceremonial swearing-in of the Chief Minister, not later after two-and-half-years when the baton of office will be passed on to another. Let us wait for the drama to unfold.
As I ruminate on the new Chief Minister, I am wondering whatever happened to the idea of having a first Dalit Chief Minister for Karnataka? After all, AICC President from Karnataka Mallikarjun Kharge too had sweated it out in this election and so also Dr. G. Parameshwara, who lost earlier in 2013 as he had lost the election. All these questions are bound to arise and they would be answered wisely by the Congress High Command. Let it be.
One should be happy about the result because, we are getting a stable government. Which is why I said that in this election, voter was the King. And only when there is a stable government, the good governance is possible. Like it happened during S.M. Krishna’s period and later during the time of Siddharamaiah. With Siddharamaiah there were some controversies like the decisions taken about the Veerashaiva-Lingayat as a religion and about celebrating Tipu Jayanti. And it also damaged its election outcome in 2018. Otherwise, Siddharamaiah had given a fairly good government to Karnataka.
In Karnataka, BJP should realise that it should give up its crab-culture in pursuit of individual power and position. Swami Vivekananda said, take religion to the Daridranarayana through his stomach. Congress may not have taken the religion to the poor (BPL card holders) but it indeed had taken food for the poor. That was the secret of its success in this election, according to me. After all the poor and the lower middle class form the bulk of the voters, others go for a holiday on the voting day!
And look at the marketing strategy of the Congress party. They offered food security under a guarantee card signed by D.K. Shivakumar and Siddharamaiah — Gruhalakshmi: Rs. 2,000 to the woman head of the family. Gruha Jyoti: 200 units of electricity free. Anna Bhagya: 10 kg rice free to each person. Yuva Nidhi: Unemployment allowance – Rs. 3,000 for graduates and Rs. 1,500 for diploma holders.
Remember, the Congress was not making a “promise”, as it knows people are intelligent and they don’t believe a politician’s ‘promise.’ So the State Congress hit up this idea of offering to the poor majority of the voters a “guarantee” of this kind. And lo and behold the victory.
Now a word about BJP in Karnataka. In 2019 what came out from the troubled political pond was not a lotus but a nettle. There was no governance, though there was general routine administration. There was rampant corruption shown on TV, social media and newspapers. Only unwise would change horse in midstream. Where was the need to change B.S. Yediyurappa and bring in Basavaraj Bommai, a docile, gentle soul when the party needed someone who can match Siddharamaiah and D.K. Shivakumar in their political dare-devilry and hardwork. No wonder, BJP had to lose the elections in a most humiliating manner, like Congress did in the 2014 and 2019 Parliamentary elections.
It is unfortunate that the only BJP stronghold in the South of India had to wilt and wither this way.
Be that as it may, the sad part of BJP’s campaign was bringing in Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and a host of other BJP leaders to canvass. Yes Rahul, Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi too came. But Modi’s invasion of Karnataka was unheard of in the history of the State as I know. The road shows, the public meetings and the temple run. But to what avail. Everything Modi, Amit Shah and others did and said came to naught. I should think the shine and sheen the iconic Modi personality had after his glorious election canvassing in the North-Eastern States that brought unprecedented victory, was wiped out here in Karnataka following BJP’s disastrous defeat. Whatever it be, for Congress this Karnataka victory is a harbinger of hope for the 2024 Parliament election. No matter the opposition parties do not coalesce well and allow Congress to lead the charge.
And finally, for Narendra Modi, the Karnataka BJP honchos did not become the change the Karnataka people wanted to see as they saw in Modi at the Centre.
And as for Modi, though he asserted that neither he would be venal nor would he allow others to be venal, he kept mum when corruption was dancing all over the Vidhana Soudha floors and at the local and village level administration. Dear Prime Minister Modi, ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see.’
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