The great North-South Divide in India has always been intriguing. Of course, once it became apparent that the Congress will sweep the mighty BJP out of the southern state of Karnataka, a few ‘news’ channels started focusing more on the local body elections in Uttar Pradesh rather than the Assembly polls in Karnataka. But then, the BJP’s victories, whether in the UP local body elections or anywhere else in the country, are always a matter of greater importance for certain journalists and some ‘news’ channels.
The Karnataka Assembly election results on Saturday is not just about the Congress getting an astounding majority. The results are a tribute to the Indian Constitution and our democracy. The people of Karnataka deserve to be saluted for ignoring Hijab, Halal and Hanuman, in whatever chronology these were sold to them.
Political pundits will like us to believe that the Karnataka verdict is all about not giving a corrupt government the second chance. Let us be honest here. Which government in India is not corrupt? And if these governments, at any level, are not, what is the rationale of their re-election?
So, do not even believe for a second that the Karnataka mandate is against corruption. Corruption was, and is, a part of the Indian eco-system and however hard and genuinely serious attempts Prime Minister Modi has made to eradicate it; those have not been successful.
Voters, thankfully, are much more intelligent than politicians and journalists. And this is what has happened in Karnataka.
As a woman, I feel liberated just reading about the Congress’ promise of free travel facilities, a Rs 2,000 a month allowance, and a monthly free ration of ten kg rice. We women own half the sky but our political representation is dismal.
In Karnataka, women have come out and voted for a change. Let’s hope this change empowers them. Let everywhere prevail an atmosphere where women like me, who love the big bindis, can sport them fearlessly, and those who want to wear a hijab can do equally fearlessly.
The BJP has lost Karnataka because it lost the pulse of its voters. Intense infighting, over sensationalising caste schisms, ignoring women voters, the lack of local satraps, and arrogance masqueraded as overconfidence are the main reasons the BJP has lost Karnataka, one of the most important states of India where the country’s Silicon Valley is located. Post Karnataka result, the entire South India has become BJP-mukt.
Will this directly impact 2024? No. Modi is a smart politician. He may have failed in garnering sympathy for himself with the “every day they give me gaalis” narrative in Karnataka, but there is enough time for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and for the new issues to crop up.
True, the Bajrang Bali bhakts in Karnataka did not mix their worship with their votes, but let us not forget that the magnificent Ram Mandir in Ayodhya could open doors to the devotees in 2024. In Gujarati, there is a proverb: Ram Rakhe tene kon chakhe? (Who can ever defeat the person whom Lord Ram protects). Also, Vidhan Sabhas and Lok Sabhas do not vote on similar lines in most states. From Delhi to Punjab and Bihar, we have seen this consistently.
The Congress got Karnataka right because of its local leadership, its integrated approach to campaigning, and its ‘keep it simple’ manifesto. It did require boldness to announce a ban on Bajrang Dal in its manifesto.
Also, it will be unfair to not mention the fact that out of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in 21 Assembly seats, the party won 17 seats. Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spent quality time in Karnataka along with the politically astute Sonia Gandhi.
Now also is the time for the BJP to realise that it will have to “tolerate” — and in fact encourage — more Yogis, Himantas, Kiren Rijijus and Shivraj Chauhans. Federalism cannot be just cosmetic. Local leadership is mandatory.
Of course, as illustrated before, Modi is a fast learner and the smartest politician of contemporary India. He will ensure that he does not reduce the BJP and its mammoth energy to a two individual power-wielding party. There will have to be more faces. Not just the cosmetic cuddly JP Nadda’s. There will have to be more powerful local leaders. The Congress also cannot be complacent. Especially in Rajasthan.
But the biggest takeaway of the Karnataka elections that every free-spirited Indian should understand and celebrate is that Karnataka has proved that not every state is Gujarat. This is the beauty of democracy.
Also Read: Impact Of Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra At The Hustings