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Win or Loss, Parties Find 2019 Footing in Karnataka Elections

VVP Sharma @vvemuri

Updated: August 30, 2018, 12:43 PM IST
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Win or Loss, Parties Find 2019 Footing in Karnataka Elections
Image for representation. (News18 Creative)
This Karnataka election was, for both the BJP and the Congress, about 28 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. And both think today that their strategies have fallen in place.

The Congress wanted to show regional satraps and the BSP that it has the best interests of regional forces at heart, is willing to play second fiddle to them for a united fight against "communal forces".

In Karnataka, the Congress was at its best behaviour. It showed that it is trustworthy the way it stood by the JD(S). Its efforts in the Supreme Court were directed at this — to send across the message that it was willing to work hard to install a government led by a smaller party in alliance and in the process play second fiddle and keep its flock together.

By handing over the leadership of the alliance to HD Kumaraswamy, the party played the caste card to perfection by taking Vokkaliga-dominated JD(S) tantalisingly close to power.

This in turn led to the credit going to Rahul Gandhi who desperately needed a political straw. Whether the Congress was and is really serious about smooth ties with JD(S) is a matter of conjecture. The JD(S)-Congress alliance may also give an opportunity to the BJP to make inroads where it is weakest in Karnataka, the old Mysore region.

The BJP got off on the wrong foot in the state. For the first time since 2014, its fortunes were steered by a Yeddyurappa’s return to the party.

He broke away in 2013 and damaged power prospects. The BJP got the Lingayat leader back. The party also let him have his say in ticket distribution and running the state unit.

He got his way decently with ticket distribution, though not for his own son. He succeeded in keeping the Lingayats united. He was not cowed by Siddaramaiah's social-engineering onslaught. He controlled post-ticket rebellion. He secured cooperation of the Reddys. And towards the end, Prime Minster Narendra Modi, the finisher, came with his blitzkreig.

Yeddyurappa delivered, but failed by a whisker. He paid the price. He has been declared the BJP CM candidate since 2014, but cut a forlorn figure as he took oath as CM without the presence of Modi and Shah.

No tweet either. Why?

Did the leadership saw the writing on the wall? Perhaps it did not want to garner a majority under controversial circumstances, in order to be perceived as the "victim" and with "clean" image? Perhaps so.

As a powerful opposition, it can now literally dictate its perception in the state. In the process, all the bad baggage is with Yeddyurappa and not the BJP. The BJP can now claim its own decent space of the moral high ground.

So, in a sense, both parties eke out their living from the election, while only two defectors seems to have lost out in the current churning — Siddaramaiah for Congress and Yeddyurappa for BJP.
First Published: May 20, 2018, 8:54 AM IST

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