Karnataka Election: A precursor to the General Elections-2024

  • Prof. Saurabh Bajpai

At last, South India has become BJP-free. Karnataka election results are crucial. It requires extensive discussion because the results have several myths and propaganda that had been blatantly spread. Apart from this, quite a number of major signs are hiding beneath the surface of this election result. The unavoidable question that stands before us is - Are the Karnataka elections a precursor to the 2024 general elections? Is Shri Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ the beginning of a new era of people-centric politics? Has the crony capitalist ‘cult’ of Narendra Modi started to crack? Has the public discovered the antidote of communal politics?

‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ and new era of people-centric politics

Most importantly, this is the first election after the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat elections were held during the course of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. Shri Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ lasted for 21 days in Karnataka. He had passed through about 20 assemblies during this period. These assembly seats are in Chitradurga, Mysore, Mandya, Bellary, Raichur, Chamarajanagar and Tumakuru districts. The Congress has made tremendous gains in those assemblies. Last time, Congress had won 5 of these seats. This time, it has won 15 seats. BJP has got only 2 seats as compared to 9 last time. On the other hand, ‘Janata Dal Secular’ had to settle for just 3 seats instead of 6. The vote share of the Congress has increased by 4.7 percent in Karnataka as a whole. In these districts, it has got a tremendous advantage of 9.7 percent. It is necessary to compare the statistics of this huge victory of Congress.

‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ has pushed the regional parties to the margins. People have accepted Congress as the main opposition. JD (secular) had a lot of influence in these areas. But the public, rallying against the BJP, has given a huge lead to the Congress in these areas. That is, the most effective regional party in Karnataka politics has suffered a huge loss. The credit for this achievement should also be given to the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. People are now preferring Congress over regional parties.

People in these areas have extended their support to Shri Rahul Gandhi by casting their votes in his favour. Let it be remembered that Karnataka elections were fought under the leadership of Shri Rahul Gandhi against Shri Narendra Modi handling the competition from the opposite side. The public has rejected Modi Ji’s extreme communal and inflammatory speeches. If this election is to be understood in a binary of Rahul vs Modi, then Shri Rahul Gandhi has beaten Modi Ji’s popularity by a huge margin. This means that the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ has touched the public at the level of consciousness. This is a great achievement of Shri Rahul Gandhi which indicates the rise of the Congress in the coming days.

Congress succeeded in winning the trust of all sections of the society

The Congress has won the support of all regions and sections of Karnataka for a clear majority in the 224-member assembly. Lingayats constitute about 17 percent of the total population of Karnataka while Vokkaligas constitute about 11 percent of the population. Apart from these two big communities, all the communities of Dalits, Muslims and backward classes together decide the direction of politics. This time in Karnataka elections, Lingayats have also given preference to Congress, leaving BJP. Lingayats thought it better to vote for Congress despite CM Bommai (being a Lingayat himself).

The Lingayat vote swing in the Kittur-Karnataka region of Karnataka affects the results. Lingayat votes also play a decisive role in 3 districts of central Karnataka. BJP considers Lingayat as its supporter Caste and that’s why it gave tickets to a total of 69 Lingayats in these elections. Out of which, only 15 Lingayats could win on their seats. On the other hand, the Vokkaliga community reposed faith in the Congress. The minorities have naturally voted for the Congress. It is clear from these figures that the Congress was successful in helping all sections of the society. This is the biggest proof of its universal acceptance.

People are getting united against ‘Communalism’

The effect of BJP’s extreme communal and inflammatory propaganda on the public is decreasing as the difference between religion and communalism is clearly visible to the public. The BJP had made Karnataka a ‘Laboratory of Communal Polarization’ in the last few years. Even during the election campaign, all the leaders including Modi tried unsuccessfully to divert the attention of the public. Despite running a one term government, the BJP did not have achievements to count. BJP resorted to communal polarisation to hide the corruption of the Karnataka government and sail through it smoothly. But the public has strongly rejected the communal rhetoric.

The public was badly fed up with the communal card of the BJP. The BJP had realized this during the elections itself. That’s why, the efforts to save Modiji’s face started even before the election results came out. Against this, the Congress expressed its resolve to follow the Indian tradition of common heritage. In its election manifesto, it included the famous lines of Kannada poet Kuvempu – ‘SarvaJananagadaShantiya Thota’, meaning a garden where all communities live in peace. The message of peace, harmony and coexistence is hidden in this voting pattern of the public.

The public accepted the issues raised by the Congress on the basis of day-to-day needs. It broadly means that communalism can no longer disturb the mind of the people. People have returned to basic questions like inflation and unemployment. Almost the same experience was witnessed in the Himachal Pradesh elections in the past months. The Congress equated the Karnataka Popular Front of India and the Bajrang Dal. It promised that it will ban Bajrang Dal if it comes to power. Popular Front of India has already been banned. Modiji tried to make it a question of Hindu sentiment. He appealed to the public to chant the slogan of ‘Bajrang Bali Ki Jai’ after casting their vote. The way Modiji tried to use the name of Prabhu Bajrang Bali in the election rallies, was indecent. The public recognized communalism and rejected this political exploitation of Prabhu Bajrang Bali. By thwarting such efforts, the public has caused worries to the BJP.

The corruption of the government, that came to power in the name of anti-corruption, has been exposed

The so-called anti-corruption movement launched by the RSS under the pseudonym of ‘India Against Corruption’ has been exposed. Despite running the government for almost nine years, the Modi government has not been able to prove even a single corruption charge against the Congress. In fact, Congress has got a clean chit in many cases during Modi Ji’s term in the government itself. Now the public has understood that all the allegations of corruption were the brainchild of BJP-RSS-Arvind Kejriwal. Recently, both BJP and Aam Aadmi Party have been surrounded by serious allegations of corruption.

Adani-Modi jugalbandi has become a greater problem especially for the BJP. Narendra Modi’s so called ‘Clean’ face created through IT cell and media is now completely tarnished. The public has now recognized the corrupt face of Modi and BJP. Now, even the general public has understood the conspiracies of crony capitalism because since past some time, the public has been badly suffering from problems like inflation and unemployment. In such a situation, all the communal experiments of Modiji to hide the corruption of the BJP government of Karnataka, failed. The BJP government had institutionalized corruption in Karnataka. Let me put it this way - in this election, the public has tossed the BJP’s slogan of anti-corruption in the air.

Joint effort of Congress leadership is the key to victory

Another special feature of these elections was the tremendous coordination between the top leadership of the Congress and the state leadership. In a way, the leadership of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, former President Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Shri Rahul Gandhi and Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra led the election campaign. Some speeches of Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra took the election campaign to a great height. Shri Rahul Gandhi was the main face of this election. Whereas, the state leadership of D.K. Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah unitedly won the trust of the people by working on the issues of the people by going among the people. The state leadership of the Congress bravely faced the CBI-ED gimmicks of the BJP. It organizationally strengthened the Congress organization till the booth level. Understanding the issues of the public, it got its manifesto prepared. It adopted the policy of accurate selection of candidates according to local electoral calculations. As a result of all this, the BJP got trapped badly in the Karnataka elections.

Congress will have to manage elections in the coming elections in a similar fashion. It is not the first time that the Congress has trounced the BJP in assembly elections. But ‘Unity’ and ‘Coordination’ like that of the Karnataka elections were rarely seen in the recent past. This kind of ‘jugalbandi’ was not seen in the elections held a few months ago - in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. Shri Rahul Gandhi was busy with ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ at that time and therefore stayed away from the Himachal Pradesh elections. At that time, the command of Himachal Pradesh was taken over by Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the Congress got a huge victory. But Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could not go to Gujarat as she was busy in Himachal Pradesh.

The Congress has chalked out its organization in the past. They have got a senior President in the form of Shri Mallikarjun Kharge. On the other hand, Shri Rahul Gandhi has taken up the task of reviving the Congress as a movement. Other senior Congress leaders including Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have provided a powerful backup to the Congress. Because of this, the entire Congress organization has got refined and emerged gracefully.

Congress emerges invincible after Karnataka

Karnataka election result is just a beginning. It is clear from the analysis of the victory of Congress in this state that the united Congress has now emerged as a very powerful force. This organizational strength and solidarity of the Congress is not only a matter of the state of Karnataka, but the Congress is active in the country with this same strength and enthusiasm. It is to be expected that after Karnataka, Congress governments will be formed again in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. On the other hand, the people of Madhya Pradesh are ready to avenge the BJP’s crime of toppling the Congress government and the way corruption has increased rapidly in Telangana too, the Congress is waging an aggressive campaign against it. The Party hopes to do well in Telangana as well. Elections are also due in Mizoram, a state in the Northeast, later this year. The Congress Party is moving ahead even there. There is no doubt that Congress is moving forward as a strong Party. Congress is hopeful that a new era is going to start with its performance in the coming elections.

The author is a Convenor, National Movement Front. The National Movement Front was established in the year 2015 to propagate the ideology and values of the freedom struggle.