Karnataka Elections: Cong’s Uprising Or BJP’s Mission South; Results Will Tell

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Karnataka Elections: Cong’s Uprising Or BJP’s Mission South; Results Will Tell

| Updated: May 13, 2023 14:07

Today will determine who will rule in Karnataka and who won’t. Voting in the Karnataka Assembly elections was completed on Wednesday. The largest voter turnout to date, according to the Election Commission, was reported at 72 per cent in the state.

Although the election in Karnataka is only state-level, its effects would be felt in both the future Assembly elections and the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. From this vantage point, the election in Karnataka is crucial for the entire country, and political parties such as the Congress, the BJP, and the Janata Dal-Secular are very interested in the outcome. 

With an 8% GDP (Gross Domestic Product) share, Karnataka is regarded as the most significant state in the Indian economy. Karnataka is a leader in industries including biotechnology, aerospace, information technology (IT), and environmental protection. 

Industries are occasionally impacted by the state’s political turmoil. According to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, the construction sector in the southern state has enormous potential. 

Currently, the state is working on projects to build new roads and flyovers as well as industrial and electrical infrastructure. One new high-tech city has already risen close to Hubbli, Dharwad, Mysore, Mangalore, Central Karnataka, and Bengaluru, prior to the announcement of the state Assembly elections.

The Congress Dilemma

The recent years have been the worst for the Congress in terms of national politics. The party has endured a constant run of election losses over this time. Except for Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, Congress has had to concede defeat in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and 2019, as well as in many other states. 

Being limited to only 44 seats in 2014 has negatively impacted its performance in the Lok Sabha. Its vote share also fell by 20%, in addition to other factors. But in 2019, it was able to secure 52 seats in the Lok Sabha.

Currently, the only states in the country with the Congress-led governments are Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan. The Congress’s base of support has shrunk as a result of repeated losses, and its workers and supporters are now feeling discouraged. Numerous well-known leaders have defected from the party and joined opposing organisations. 

The status of the Congress in Indian politics is rapidly deteriorating. The exit polls that were conducted after the elections in Karnataka gave the party optimism for a comeback. At present, the majority of exit polls show that the Congress might establish a government in the state.

If the Congress wins, it might influence future elections in states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan favourably. Karnataka has more than 200 Assembly seats, and the Congress will have a significant state where it may form a government.

Congress leader and Karnataka state in-charge DK Shivakumar

Congress’s Path To Emerge: Karnataka

The election plan for 2024 can potentially be advantageous for the Congress party. It may assert that Rahul Gandhi’s journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, which was effective in Karnataka, can also aid them in the general election. 

With the victory in Karnataka, the Congress can more convincingly assert that it would be the primary opposition in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, increasing the likelihood of a united opposition under its leadership. Assembly elections are being held in five other states in addition to Karnataka, therefore it can also gain from those polls. 

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge was elected as the Congress president in October of last year. As a Karnataka native, he has the potential to rise in status and lead the winning party’s state unit. This triumph may serve as a political ‘pick-me-up’ for the state and the nation in the years ahead.

BJP’s Faith Is Hanging

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai

In Karnataka, the BJP is currently in charge. The party’s standing in the state is ambiguous, and it might be challenging for them to establish a government, according to the most recent exit poll. In many ways, this election is essential for the BJP. 

For the last nine years, the party has flown its flag in the nation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership has allowed the BJP to strengthen its influence in multiple states. The party has not been successful in entering the five major southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, or Telangana, with the exception of Karnataka. 

The party has created an equal entrance gateway for the first time in the state of Karnataka. For the last 30-35 years, the BJP has attempted to increase its support base in southern states, but it has yet to be successful. Its ‘South mission’ may suffer a severe blow as a result of this election.

The BJP asserts itself to be the largest political party in the world, but if they fail to secure victory in the upcoming election, it will not hold power in any of the five major states in South India. Since 2007, the BJP’s political influence in Karnataka has been fluctuating without gaining a clear majority, despite their claims to attain one this time. 

The BJP’s current standing in Karnataka is largely owed to the legacy of former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, who played a significant role in the party’s past successes in Assembly elections, except for the 2013 elections, when the BJP could only secure 40 seats after Yediyurappa separated from the party. Although, Yediyurappa is not contesting this election, his support is still crucial, particularly in the face of an 82-year-old age and the party’s reliance on the campaigning of Prime Minister Modi. So if the BJP wins, the BJP emerge victorious, its path forward will be smoother than before, and its reliance on Yediyurappa’s influence will likely diminish in local politics. 

In the southern states of Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala, the BJP is aiming to broaden the base of its support beyond Karnataka. The BJP’s support has increased significantly during the past four years in Telangana. The BJP’s performance in the 2018 State Assembly elections was insignificant, but four months later, the party’s performance in the Lok Sabha elections shocked political analysts. 

For the Congress in Karnataka, the BJP may now be a dangerous proposition. However, the BJP may face difficulties when trying to enter Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. The BJP’s triumph in Karnataka at this time may help them in Telangana.

With the victory in Karnataka, the BJP can make it very apparent to opposition parties, that there is no point in battling the Congress-led government. Five more states in the nation — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Manipur — will conduct elections by the end of this year. Conflict within the Congress is present in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Therefore, the BJP can intellectually confront the Congress even in these states.

Can’t Ignore JD(S) in Karnataka!

JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy

Regarding Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) in Karnataka, it is primarily a local party limited to the state of Karnataka. It seems unlikely that JD(S) will be able to win power in the state on its own, given its limited reach. However, based on its past performances in the Karnataka elections, JD(S) cannot be discounted. In the elections held in 1999, JD(S) won 10 seats; in 2004, it won 58 seats; in 2008, it won 28 seats; in 2013, it won 40 seats, and in 2018, it won 37 seats. 

While JD(S) does not have a strong influence throughout the state, it can still play a crucial role in case of a deadlock or hung Assembly. Despite having only 37 seats in the 2018 elections, HD Kumaraswamy managed to become the Chief Minister by forming an alliance with the Congress. However, this alliance was short-lived. In case of a similar situation arises again, where neither the Congress nor the BJP secures a clear majority, they may have to join hands with JD(S), and Kumaraswamy may emerge as the king or kingmaker.

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