Congress: Karnataka joint: biggest win for any party in state since 1989; Congress 136, BJP 65 | Karnataka Election News

BENGALURU: Building on a strong anti-incumbent mood created in part by voter concerns about prices and corruption, Congress he comfortably surpassed a majority of 113 in the Karnataka assembly elections, winning 136 seats. His win left behind a chastened BJP – who had turned into a one-trick pony, relying almost entirely on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and charisma to win – with a modest 65 score. of Congress left the third player in state politics, the JD(S) of the Deve Gowda family, which fixes political irrelevance and can potentially turn the state into a bipolar political system in 2024, when LS elections are due .
By restoring the Congress to office at a time when it faces a crisis, Karnataka has lived up to its pattern of coming to the party’s rescue at critical moments. She helped Indira Gandhi return to LS by winning the Chikmagalur by-election in 1978. In 1999, when the party had lost two consecutive LS elections, Sonia Gandhi chose Bellary, besides Amethi, to make her electoral debut. In 1977, the state sided with the party when it was rejected in the North over Emergency excesses. In 1978, his victory in the assembly polls launched a successful campaign for a return to the Center.
Saturday’s result is no less important, a lifeline. It will reassure Congress that it remains a viable option, burn Rahul Gandhi’s credentials as a challenger to Modi, and help him neutralize efforts by regional satraps to enter his space.
What Karnataka says, and doesn’t say, about the 2024 polls
The emphatic Congress victory – a rarity these days – in Karnataka is mirrored by the sharp state-level anti-incumbent who brought down the BJP. But it’s important to read the verdict carefully. Here are some tips. Congress should not take this victory as a leading indicator for 2024, either at the state or national level. Since 1985, Karnataka has voted differently when it comes to state and national elections, and many states now vote on a ‘split ticket’.
Remember Odisha in 2019 – By voting on the same day, people chose BJD in the state while BJP scored in Lok Sabha polls. Similarly, the BJP would be making a mistake in dismissing Karnataka as a “one-off”. Its defeat, like that of Himachal Pradesh last year, shows that the BJP is vulnerable when poorer voters feel the economic crisis. It also shows that outside the Hindi belt and south of the Vindhyas, and especially where regional identity is strong, the BJP is at risk with its one-nation-one-language-one-religion-one-leader tone. Therefore, in general, on the national stage, and since the national leadership of the BJP still carries more weight than that of the opposition, the BJP will try to make the Lok Sabha polls even more presidential. The opposition will want to locate the Lok Sabha polls. But trying to locate a national election is a challenging task. What worked in Karnataka is that the Congress only projected its local leaders and the Gandhi family for once took a back seat. Rahul Gandhi wisely did not make his political future an electoral issue. But can the Gandhi family only play a supporting cast when it comes to the general election?
If Rahul Gandhi is projected to be the opposition leader opposing Modi in 2024, the clash of personalities could still weigh heavily in the BJP’s favor. That said, Karnataka’s victory gives Congress a beachhead to build on nationwide. The big win gives a demoralized party some self-confidence and shows a path to rehabilitation at least in the states: namely keeping elections as localized as possible and empowering local leaders. In Siddaramaiah, Congress has a grassroots leader, a man of the people, with a welfarist even socialist streak and a solid pro-poor connection. The plight of Congress is that such leaders are in short supply in a party dominated by armchair politicians who cannot win elections. For the BJP, the question is while it remains dominant in the center, is it losing its grip stateside? One of the reality checks for the BJP since the Karnataka loss is that welfare can be denounced as freebies or “revdi”, but in times of trouble, freebies are often seen as a necessity by voters. Over the past three years, Covid and lockdowns have hit incomes and jobs across India, particularly among the most vulnerable.
Beyond the bright lights of Bengaluru and in districts like Yadgir, studies have found alarming numbers of malnourished children. As we saw in Himachal Pradesh with the Congressional election promise of the old pension scheme and as we have now seen in Karnataka where high gas cylinder prices were a major problem, low-income voters want a cushion from economic woes. Women voters – a key constituency almost everywhere – are perhaps the strongest proponents of targeted welfare. Of course, the Center is not short of welfare schemes. There are any number of yojanas, there is Ayushman Bharat and a slew of central schemes that have created the ‘labharthi’ beneficiary class, cutting through caste and religion and creating a base of support for the BJP. Congress campaigned in Karnataka based on various guarantees including free rice and power. So, 2024 may see a battle within a battle: the BJP’s labharthi against Congressional guarantees, a competitive welfare race. Karnataka 2023 offers another reality check in another key area: Polarizing ideological issues are subject to diminishing returns if economic concerns remain unresolved. In the last 12 months in Karnataka the BJP state has insisted on hijab, halal, azaan and Tipu Sultan. These issues have barely resonated with voters beyond coastal Karnataka. Regional patterns on religious polarization can vary, with northern states voting on identity issues more strongly than others. However, both Himachal Pradesh 2022 and Karnataka 2023 have revealed a slow growing trend. Religious mobilization can face limitations when voters’ real concerns are economics. Hindu-Muslim politics is not a pan-Indian narrative. As for opposition unity, after Karnataka, Congress can be seen as a magnet for anti-BJP forces.
But Congress cannot be the only driver. Instead of believing he’s “invincible,” Congress will need to learn humility, particularly in places where he’s not a player. Indeed no one is ‘invincible’ in today’s politics. A popular prime minister cannot compensate for weak prime ministers. Nor does a party’s victory in a state election mean its national leadership is strong. Karnataka is not India. But even state capitals cannot be remotely controlled from Delhi.


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