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Why the Congress won in Karnataka

SOME TIME IN 2008, the people of Karnataka allowed the lotus to bloom on its own for the first time in South India.

Five years and three chief ministers later, the BJP proved that it could be as asinine as the Congress when it comes to corruption, chopping heads and running dictums via a High Command. And unlike the Congress, it could also talk ‘holy shit.’

When Yeddyurappa was caught with his hand in the till, the BJP looked the other way. And those are not my words but that of L K Advani. Stripped totally of shame, Arun Jaitley had famously refused to sack the then chief minister claiming that the municipal elections were around. And coming from a man who talks of ‘Korapsion’ at the drop of a hat, this revealed the true colours of the ‘party with a difference’.  

What gets to the goat of most people who look for an alternative to the Congress is the sheer arrogance of the BJP. It can talk against corruption with a straight face while sitting on a hotbed of corruption on its own. There is just too much of hot air. You preach probity in public life but practise just the opposite.     

Not just that. The BJP strongman (both literally and figuratively) Narendra Modi kept his channels of communication open with Yeddy. Remarkably enough, as Advani says, it was not BJP that threw out Yeddy; it was the other way round. Let that pass.  There are many reasons for the BJP rout in Karnataka.

One, the people of the state are tired of this party. Funnily, the BJP is seeing political juice in this. It now believes that this is the proof that people will throw out corrupt politicians. And that this would play out in the Centre in 2014 to the BJP’s benefit. What a wonderful way of testing out that which is common knowledge!

A second reason is the split in the BJP vote because of the walking out of Yeddy. Coolly, the BJP is holding out that its total vote share had fallen only by 2 per cent; that is if you take the Yeddy’s votes as well. This is what one could call hunt with the hare and run with the hound. Take credit for dropping him and then adding his booty to your account. It’s exactly this kind of talk that gets to people’s goat.

Three, the Congress got its electoral arithmetic right. By capturing the imagination of the OBC, Dalits and Muslims through strategic electoral alliance and with the BJP throwing in the towel even before the game began, the Congress victory was a foregone conclusion. More importantly, it also sent out the message that Narendra Modi’s appeal stayed with Gujarat.

Finally, it was not that the Congress deserved to win. South India’s inexorable anti-incumbency factor worked in its  favor. Remember, in Tamil Nadu and Kerala the principal parties have alternated in power. And now that’s happened in Karnataka.

There are a few things that Indian voters today desire. The voter may not be straight, honest or an achiever; but he expects his leaders to be straight, honest and an achiever. If the Congress is to get it right, it needs to do a few things correct. Like:

•    It needs to ensure discipline in administration. In fighting should be dealt
     with a firm hand and decisions need to be taken in Bangalore, not in New 
     Delhi.
•    The State is crying for infrastructural improvements. The roads are in a holy
      mess. Quickly set it right. And bring the Metro to Bangalore ASAP.
•    Industrial climate needs to get more investor- friendly in the land that was
     once touted as India’s silicon valley.  
If the state is seen to be honest and responsive, people will vote for it with a massive mandate.
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