Karnataka Election — Looks Congress will have its government
My take on Karnataka election:
Congress will be a single largest party, with around 100 seats
It will form a government with the support of JD(S)
In case Congress gets the majority of its own, JD(S) will reach out and give it the outside support.
Here are my top 10 reasons:
1. Opinion polls are largely divided, but the error will be on the side of BJP as its supporters are usually more vocal and continue to be more outspoken with the perceived right-wing support. Also, people in Karnataka are usually much more taciturn than the migrant population especially from the North
2. The main differentiators of BJP from 2014 have been completely neutralized in the Karnataka
— Efficiency: Can’t be promised by the same team who had 3 CM in five years, had 5 members in jail and 17 ministers who resigned
— Corruption: Well Karnataka is most corrupt in India, but India is most corrupt in Asia.
And with Reddy brother who allowed five million tons of iron ore to be washed away after being seized, less said it is better.
— Decisiveness: That Demonetization, GST and Surgical Strike was not spoken about at all shows they are known issues with limited value.
— Dynasty: BSY with one son being MP, and second one throwing tantrums for not getting a ticket — it more or less like Gandhis here too.
— Freshness: Same old discredited team, who just have the vision to share. And yes, ideally BSY should be a Margdarshak Mandal member, a detail which is not missed
— Social Media — not just neutralized, but Congress took a lead on that.
3. Image — Siddaramaiah has been able to maintain a clean image. In fact, he has been very patient in responding to many attempts to engage him but had been measured. However, he had been firm at the same time — see how he said that he is free to eat beef, and honor Tipu.
Also while the government surely had a corrupt image, Siddu has not been accused in any scam. The closest was an INR 80K watch, which he claimed was gifted by a friend and was given away. But again, it was possibly a splash in the pan vis a vis the attire our PM adorns.
4. Work in the last term: Well first three years for Siddu had been a washout, but last two years he has worked. Especially the visible populist action — like Anna Bhagya, Indira Canteen for example. Setting up 100 canteens in a space-starved city like Bangalore is an achievement by itself.
5. Personality — well Siddaramaiah has been able to build a personality which listens, especially after some initial gaffes. Like Steel Flyover backtracking, or taking back the BBMP trifurcation where he acknowledged the civil society activism. Or making public his sleep apnea problem, and how he overcame it through treatment.
At the same time, Siddu has achieved a level of decisiveness over the last couple of years, especially after the death of his son which he managed with public sense of purpose. And he took up some long-term issues like recognition of minority status for the Lingayats, which had been a demand for a long time.
6. Positioning — Siddaramaiah could establish himself as the undisputed leader on Congress in the state, and it was significantly helped by the initial BJP campaign against the “Sidda Sarkara”. This made Rahul and others as support castes, unlike Yeddy who appeared completely subservient to the Modi-Shah duo.
7. Social Media — Well BJP has been completely checkmated.
I doubt there was any Karnataka representation in the BJP team. The same team of Amit Malviya went on with the same content of Nehru family, Modi greatness and “Hindu Khatre me Hain” (Hindus are in danger). Congress on other hand localized it, and actually picked up only those where the state and its pride was involved.
Siddaramaiah Tweets were a treat in its stinging parody, but it also achieved few more things:
— It was always a response rather than aggression, but quick and with stinging humor
— Most often, it was earthly jibes rather than any abuse or accusation
These helped position Siddaramaiah against Modi-Shah duo, in a way of elevating himself as a potential national leader. And we know the impact of the same on a proud community.
8. North versus the rest — this is something which no one will speak about, but definitely, an undercurrent is there. There had been many flare-ups, especially on Social Media on issues who people in the Southern States (and Bengal) felt being imposed by North.
The most visible in Karnataka was the use of Hindi in Metro controversy, but there had been many which flared up — interference in Tamil Nadu politics, the food scrutiny at the Kerala House in Delhi, the anti-beef agitations in Kerala. This was again in the display when the 15th Finance Commission suggestions for fund allocation came in when people believed they are being punished for achieving higher Human Development Index over last four decades.
Not exactly related, but the Hyderabad University controversy was also seen as an extension of the same lawlessness towards South.
I was hoping BJP will work on this gap in this election. In TN it has received fewer votes than NOTA in the by-election. Naidu has made BJP a sworn enemy, and he is widely respected. In Kerala, the vote percentage of BJP is falling.
And still BJP sent Yogi to advise Karnataka how to run the state when UP is way behind this state in HDI Index, and so many of his state has migrated to Bangalore for jobs (five daily flights to Lucknow just for the familial visits). And that too after Yogi made a mess of the rape issue at Unnao.
9. Kannada Pride — Siddaramaiah has been deft in playing this, first with Metro controversy, adoption of the state flag and later by calling out BJP leaders while keeping Rahul Gandhi on a low key. Towards the end, Congress played the Sin City/ Garbage City tag of Bangalore smartly to its advantage. Of course, the lack of implementation of SC order on Cauvery issue, and recent high handed approach by Goa on Mahayadi (where Goa CM wrote to Yeddyurappa instead of Siddu) was always handy.
10. The campaign has seen lots of money, and BJP has splurged much more as it has much higher access to it than Congress.
This is seen in every medium, in a way completely discrediting the demonetization impact on making elections corruption free. This has also been seen in the Modi meetings, where undue excitement has been created by huge chants of “Modi, Modi”, oblivious of the fact that such masculine leadership is an anathema South of Vindhyas.
However, Mr. Modi has kept talking about the same issues — Nehru, who went to meet whom, who said what etc. Apart from the fact that people are now tired of history (rather His Story), and youth is least interested to know how the country was divided; BJP in Karnataka has so many contemporary skeletons that all these did not stick.
And of course, the issues which enthuse the future generations were completely missing — like jobs, investments, skill development, global leadership etc.
Some say higher turnout means anti-incumbency. That possibly is not the case as many studies have shown it to be a myth.
Also, higher turnout helps in the case where the opponent is a cadre-based party, as cadres do always vote whatever the turnout. Similar had been seen with Communist parties over the years in West Bengal or Kerala, or more recently in Tripura.
Now why JD(S) will go with Congress.
Well the BJP has been very messy with its partners. They are together, and whenever they part they are termed arch enemies — Nitish, Mamata, Sena, and Naidu.
The reason is unique — BJP has an ulterior goal of a new social norm, and all the partners are the crutches in the journey. Same again with the Communist Party.
Congress on the other hand just wants to be in power, so that the interests of all the constituencies will be taken care of. And that makes the math simple. The previous experiment with JD(S) also doesn’t help as precedence.