By Sushil Kutty
The electoral battlefield in Karnataka is strewn with bodies, those of the dead and the wounded. Siddaramaiah has lost more than one arm. BS Yeddyurappa lost his cup of joy because there are these things called ‘slip’ and ‘lip’. Amit Shah lost his confidence. Rahul Gandhi his voice and PM Narendra Modi ‘face’.
But it is the Janata Dal (Secular) striking gold. It has accepted the Congress Party’s offer of full support to make HD Kumaraswamy chief minister, which is what a ‘good father’ like HD Deve Gowda wanted. So, ultimately, dynasty won!
News was that Mamata, Mayawati and everybody else secular called Deve Gowda on the phone to go for it and take the Congress offer of support. So, the exit polls went down the drain. Today’s Chanakya overshot and so did Jan Ki Baat. It is up to the ‘Axis’ – the Congress supporting JD(S), to form a “secular government”. At 4 pm the numbers stood at BJP 106, Congress 77 and JD(S) 37 with ‘Others 2’.
Congress leaders went to the Governor but were sent back till the numbers settled. The ‘single-largest party’ BJP may try to stake claim to form the government and settle for make or break JD(S) and with the ‘Others-2’ settle the issue on the floor of the House. The cavalry will then have to be strengthened, so horse-trading will be on the cards.
But the Congress has learned its lesson – not repeat a Goa or a Meghalaya. ‘Power at all costs’ and ‘Keep the BJP out of power’ are the two mantras and the Congress will do everything to deny the BJP even a ‘moral victory’ that Rahul Gandhi claimed after the Congress Party’s Gujarat defeat.
Yeddyurappa at 4pm, probably anticipating just that, said the Congress has “lost the moral right to claim power”, and that the BJP has “first claim to stake for power”. “People have voted for change,” he said. “The mandate is for a Congress-free Karnataka. The popular mandate is for the BJP.”
That should show where the BJP is coming from and where the BJP is going. The flip-flops and ping-pong are very much going to continue and if the election campaigns were dirty just wait for what’s in store. The dust in Karnataka is not going to settle down in a hurry and if the storms in north India and Andhra were devastating, the one building up in Karnataka will put to shame a Katrina!
The big story of May 15 was that despite the rolling stone character of the results, Janata Dal (Secular) gathered moss. HD Deve Gowda had the chance to pitchfork his son to the ‘CM’s chair’ and he wouldn’t let go! Don’t be surprised that despite calls from the secular front, if Deve Gowda does not get one from Modi himself! With the Congress ready to support JD(S), the “triumphant” BJP will fight tooth and nail with some underhand deals to avoid being stationed on the opposition benches.
The biggest loser is Siddaramaiah. He is no friend of neither father nor son – Deve Gowda or Kumaraswamy.
To be charitable to the outgoing CM his wounded political acumen, let’s just say the Anna Bhagya scheme did him in, not Modi, not Shah. The rice was gooey and the wheat mice wouldn’t bite. And because the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach, it was not only the men but also women who punished the food-provider for the upset stomachs!
This and a number of other trivia explain why the Congress lost and the BJP nearly won a majority. If one of them was Anna Bhagya, the other could well be Ahindya, the Kannada acronym for Dalit, OBC and Minorities, a coalition which did not work for Siddaramaiah.
In coastal Karnataka, BJP victories in certain constituencies are being attributed to ‘Hindu martyrs’, killings branded as political assassinations. It seems even as the numbers did their flip-flop, the RSS and the BJP were on the roll to consolidate Hindu votes for the 2019 general elections.
Coastal Karnataka is where Muslim resistance to Hindutva is at its zenith. And the Ananth Hegde-rhetoric against the Muslim/Dalit that actor Prakash Raj so valiantly fought has paid dividends to the BJP. Again and again, in state after state, Hindu vote consolidation is a reality, to the disadvantage of ‘secular’ forces. The media helped by keeping the ‘Hindu’ in the news in a most disparaging manner.
There is talk that the loss is that of Siddaramaiah and not that of Congress President Rahul Gandhi. The question being raised is: who invested equity on whom? Rahul Gandhi, with a wish to become Prime Minister, doesn’t remain unscathed from the drubbing the Congress got in Karnataka. The Congress President goes into the Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assembly elections at a loss for words.
Rahul Gandhi addressed 38 rallies in 23 districts of Karnataka and he started earlier than Narendra Modi. His temple-run and mutt-visits were noticed and spoken about. Campaigning in first big elections since being elevated to Congress President, Rahul Gandhi looked assured and in command though he gave the floor to Siddaramaiah. In the gasp hours, however, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visceral attacks were killing. Who will be the winner in a 15-minute one-on-one debate is no longer in doubt.
The vote shares, at around 38% each, however, tell a different story. It speaks of how much the Janata Dal (S) managed to offset and upset the Congress. Maybe Mayawati in the JD(S) camp fooled the Congress into thinking that a resurgent JD(S) will be good for the Congress because of the ‘secular’ in the JD bracket. The Congress and Rahul Gandhi are definitely out of the leadership stakes in a possible Third Front. (IPA Service)