BJP red-carded in Karnataka


The unmistakable message from the Karnataka elections is that the BJP does not bring stability and substance to governance. The BJP may have ruled Karnataka before. They never managed to complete a single full term. Each term was replete with political upheavals and defections – a game that the BJP is seeking to master with big money from sources unknown. Defections commoditize politics and that is a violation of the sanctity of democracy.

Right here in Goa, the last two BJP governments have ruled by sheer defection-mongering. In 2017, the BJP won a paltry 13 seats. After being roundly thrashed, Amit Shah swore the BJP would form the government in Goa. This, they achieved by hook and by crook. BJP bigwigs swooped down on Goa from Delhi, and literally bought off political commodities with ostentatious sums of money. They further offered them loaves and fishes of office to form the government.  A government was produced but the people of Goa did not have so much as a glimpse of governance because the government was enacting ‘adjustment politics’ sans accountability. Sabka Saath; Sabka Vikas went nowhere. A mirage at best!

Same in 2022! After barely scraping through, eight Congresspersons crossed the fence in full public view.  They’re probably a wealthier lot now. A handful wants more – a place in the cabinet. More access to more gains. But seeing the writing on the wall in Karnataka, they should prefer the long walk home, recognizing the blunt error of their ways.

The BJP is fast-sliding into irrelevance. How long can a hate-filled and socially divisive agenda stay sustained? Politics, even at its lowest depths, needs a socio-political programme and a semblance of positive intent. In Karnataka, the electorate dumped the enforcers of Hijab, Halal, and the headscarf and altered reservations for Muslims into political dustbins. The Bajrang Bali narrative met with doom. ‘No’, was the thumping rejection of the communal ploy.

There was big-time political conceit too, which boomeranged. People were cautioned: “Vote BJP or lose Modi’s blessings”. Karnataka is in the realm of Dravidian politics and the South has dismissed colonial intimidation of Northern domination. This is a country with multiple identities. If the BJP were to tamper with pluralistic India, they would shoot themselves in the foot. The PM has no mandate to bless States. That is in God’s job description. Everyone knows that.

The BJP was complacent. The big names arrived late in the campaign and demonstrated insensitivity to the reality of Karnataka’s distinct political culture. They prioritized National issues rather than the local issues people were preoccupied with and confront. The leadership mistook UP and MP to be models for Karnataka. The political culture of Karnataka is very different. If National leaders cannot be inclusive they lose the plot. The BJP failed to look at the mirror of what it has been. Modi and Shah had messages that did not fit in Karnataka. Here’s a simple political premise for BJP next time: “One size doesn’t fit all.“

Goodbye to the politics of hate and religious animosity. The Bharath Jodo Yatra with Karnataka won hearts, pointed to the notion of a common humanity rather than apartheid-style governance patterns. Rahul Gandhi cemented the foundations of the victory. You also had Kharge, an affable Dalit as Congress President. There was a well-cemented leadership in the Congress. The Congress will now require tact and wisdom to balance out the aspirations. KPCC veterans, President DK Shivakumar and former CM Siddaramaiah.  People wait with fingers crossed.

The Congress played its cards in regards to identity politics with a vision and agenda. At the base of their reckoning, they embraced distributive egalitarianism. Congress won the SC vote from both erstwhile factions of the community all to themselves. They won the Muslim constituents without even a contest. They took over large parts of the Lingayat vote, a socially significant category, part of a Saiva sect of southern India, characterized by denial of caste distinctions. The Vokkaligas, an OBC community, of closely-related castes, from the Indian state of Karnataka, with notable demographic, political, and economic dominance in Old Mysore sized up in telling numbers with the Congress.

Hindutva came a cropper in most places. It is now an issue to be yawned away because it completely lacks social and economic productivity. It tears apart people’s social fabric and divides once-socially affable and cohesive communities. The BJP has now proven that these discordant and disruptive ideas had to eventually fall by the wayside. It simply does not add up for the minorities, lower castes/tribes and classes.

The electorate in Karnataka has unequivocally declared: “Enough is enough”.  In four out of six regions, the Congress left the BJP stunned with their victories. BJP’s Goa-in-charge C T Ravi was trounced as were his four political companions in Chikmagalur. He should be disallowed from being the BJP’s High Command representative to Goa. Moreover, why did Goa even bother to send its CM and TCP/Health/WCD/Forest Minister to campaign in what turned out to be a massive losing cause. According to local assessments, they added no value at all to BJP’s prospects. Let’s figure the logic. Karnataka is ranked eight among major States in terms of size with its own distinct socio-political dynamics. Goa is the smallest state by size. It is time; Goa focused on itself and upgrade its own pathetic governance systems rather pretend to be influencers. Karnataka residents who got a paid holiday under the pretext of going to vote probably voted Congress.

The Modi-factor is diminishing. BJP’s message lacks new ideas. Diversionary tactics work only up to a point. Modi’s larger-than-life charisma is a tall story and exists only as far as the rhetoric of a Hindu Rashtra goes. Millions of Hindus dismiss themselves it as irrelevant and exclusive. Extreme wings of the Sangh Parivar that control the streets with intimidation are not going to make politics productive.

People want a Bharath Jodo for everyday!

Ranjan Solomon is a political commentator

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