After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced a significant defeat in the Karnataka elections, Sharad Pawar, the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, expressed that the public has disapproved of the slogan “Modi hai to mumkin hai” (With Modi, everything is possible). The BJP in the state now faces various challenges, including decreasing reliance on Prime Minister Modi, eradicating corruption, and engaging in self-reflection to avoid becoming complacent.
Extended congratulations to the Congress Party for their resounding triumph. In politics, success often attracts many claimants, while failure is disowned. The 2019 elections marked the most significant win for the BJP in Karnataka over the past four years. However, as the saying goes, the past is now a part of history.
Now, it is crucial to analyze the reasons behind the BJP’s drubbing defeat in this election and the implications it presents. The Karnataka 2023 election brings forth intriguing matters and obstacles for the BJP. It is a fitting and significant moment for introspection.
The initial factor is the underwhelming administration. Despite the mitigating circumstances of the Covid pandemic and economic limitations, the existing BJP administration failed to demonstrate notable achievements in terms of progress, infrastructure, or welfare. The fact that fourteen ministers from the government lost the election speaks volumes. Additionally, the last-minute adjustments made to reservation policies did not provide any favourable outcome.
The second factor is the pervasive issue of corruption, which seems to escalate with each new government. Unfortunately, the BJP government did not succeed in reversing this trend. The highly questionable accusation of a “40 per cent commission” gained significant traction and was further exacerbated by the Madal Virupakshappa incident. The firsthand experiences of ordinary individuals in their interactions with government offices only served to reinforce the prevailing sense of disappointment and disillusionment.
Lack of Pivotal Leadership
The third factor is the absence of resolute leadership. Basavaraj Bommai, who was mentored by B. S. Yediyurappa, failed to inspire both the state’s voters and the party workers. He was unable to establish himself as a strong leader and was always seen as a compromised choice. This mirrors the BJP’s experience in other regions, where the dearth of influential chief ministerial candidates has proven to be a costly disadvantage.
Absence of Concrete Ideology
The fourth factor is the absence of a clear ideology. The BJP once took pride in being the “party with a difference,” known for its nationalist ideology, idealism, and innovative approach. However, the inclusion of individuals with diverse backgrounds and often strong ideological opposition diluted the party’s ideological commitment. Furthermore, this not only diminished the morale of the party workers but also, in this election, the ideological aspect, which has historically been a significant factor for the BJP, played no role.
The Congress party swiftly seized the opportunity when they sensed vulnerability within the BJP. They effectively employed a strategy of offering incentives while also highlighting allegations of corruption against the ruling BJP government. This combination of a “carrot and stick” approach for reward and punishment proved highly beneficial for Congress. On one hand, they promised freebies to appeal to various sections of society, and on the other hand, they consistently built a narrative around the perceived corruption within the incumbent BJP administration (although it should be noted that the Congress party itself does not have a strong track record in combating corruption).
Sharad Pawar, the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, commended the Congress party for its resounding triumph in the Karnataka assembly elections, which he sees as a significant step for the opposition in their battle against the BJP. In an interview with news agency ANI, Pawar highlighted that the outcome in Karnataka serves as evidence that the unity among like-minded parties in other states can potentially lead to the defeat of the BJP.
He said, “We have got a message from Karnataka. The state has shown a path to the opposition. If a single party like Congress in Karnataka can show their power against BJP then in other states like-minded parties should come together and defeat BJP.”
After the BJP’s significant defeat in Karnataka, resulting in a reduction of its seat share to 66, Sharad Pawar, who played a central role in the Maharashtra crisis, took to Twitter and expressed, “People have rejected ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai'” (With Modi, everything is possible). The seasoned politician also praised Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
The Congress party achieved a resounding victory, securing 135 seats out of the 224-member assembly. Currently, the party is engaged in the process of selecting a chief minister.
Notwithstanding these challenges, the dedicated BJP workers persevered diligently. Prime Minister Narendra Modi fulfilled his role by embarking on extensive and demanding road shows, delivering speeches even in the sweltering summer heat. This effort revitalized the party workers, reinvigorating their enthusiasm. The party rallied its efforts and put in exceptional hard work during the final stretch, exhibiting commendable determination.