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Earthquake in North-East Elections Jolts Congress in Karnataka

The BJP ended the 25-year rule of the Left front in Tripura and its alliance rode to power in Christian-dominated Nagaland decimating the Congress. The results have certainly dampened the spirits of the party in Karnataka.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:March 3, 2018, 6:07 PM IST
Earthquake in North-East Elections Jolts Congress in Karnataka
Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa flashes victory sign along with the party members in Bengaluru (File Photo: PTI)
Bengaluru: North-East hardly matters in Karnataka politics. Actually, it never mattered. But Saturday was different. For the first time, workers of both the ruling Congress and the main opposition BJP were glued to television sets since morning closely watching the trends. As the BJP took a lead over the Left front in Tripura, Karnataka BJP leaders, including its CM face B S Yeddyurappa, broke into smiles knowing that the BJP bosses in Delhi will now turn their focus entirely on Karnataka.

The complete rout of the Congress in Tripura and Nagaland has shocked the ruling party workers and leaders who are gearing up for a "do or die" Karnataka battle in the next two months.

Even though the Congress rout was expected in Tripura, they still had hopes that Manik Sarkar would stop the BJP juggernaut and give greater confidence to the Congress in Karnataka by the fact that an incumbent had managed to hold on.

The BJP ended the 25-year rule of the Left front in Tripura and its alliance rode to power in Christian-dominated Nagaland decimating the Congress. The results have certainly dampened the spirits of the party in Karnataka.

The Congress also fears that the BJP might create a Goa and Manipur like scenario in Meghalaya where it has emerged as the single largest party.

Analysing the results, a top leader of the state Congress said, “North-East hardly matters here. It is a different world for us. We are the ruling party in Karnataka. A Tripura or Nagaland like scenario is impossible. Worse we will end up like Meghalaya".

Karnataka BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa was quick to react to the good news from North-East. Speaking to News18, he said, “Our party has won big in the North-East. Tripura result is the most important one. Both the Congress and the communists are now history. The same will happen in Karnataka. The Siddaramaiah government will be defeated in the elections".

By 11 o'clock, celebrations broke out at the state BJP headquarters while the mood at the KPCC office was sombre.

State Congress leaders were at pains to explain how the results in North-East won't affect the party prospects in Karnataka. Many chose to dodge the question saying that only the high command can answer and they have no idea about how the elections were fought in the North-East.

Saturday's results may not have a direct impact on Karnataka Assembly polls as the ground situation is entirely different here. But it will certainly give an edge to the BJP over the Congress. The Congress can't continue to question the BJP on its committment towards the Christians whose population is over 3% in the state.

Secondly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a real pan-India leader and he will continue to lead the party in the crucial Karnataka elections.

Perhaps Congress president Rahul Gandhi knew that he had no chance in the North-East and was campaigning for the party in Karnataka during Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya electioneering. It clearly shows that the Congress has taken Karnataka seriously.


Currently, Karnataka is the only big state ruled by the Congress in the country. Punjab, where the Congress is in power, is a midsized state with empty coffers.

It makes it all the more important for the Congress to win Karnataka at any cost. If it loses Karnataka to the BJP, then the party will find it extremely difficult to stay relevant in national politics as a major player and may not be able to turn the tide in election bound Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

A clear win can still keep the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls race and help the party in Assembly elections in three major Hindi heartland states.

A fractured mandate, with JDS as the kingmaker, can still help the BJP, but it won't help the ruling Congress even if they manage to form the government with the Gowdas.

The earthquake in the North-East has jolted the Karnataka Congress and the tremors can be felt on the ground even though these states are politically inconsequential. Because the times are different.
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