Karnataka Blow to BJP

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Congress, unlike the BJP, was able to put up a united face. It focused on local issues instead of getting entangled in the Hindutva rhetoric like the BJP.The Congress also cleverly tapped into women and youth vote-banks. Earlier they used to side with the BJP but this time the Congress made a concerted push and won their support. The Bajrang Dal controversy also helped the Congress and brought about Muslim consolidation in its favour.

Congress is all set to form a government in Karnataka after unseating the BJP in the elections. The results have dealt a body blow to the BJP and would affect the party’s preparations for 2024 general elections. It would also impact the assembly elections to be held in states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh later this year.

BJP chief minister Basavaraj Bommai conceded defeat saying his party has “not been able to make the mark” in Karnataka. Congress scored a comfortable victory, easily crossing the magic number of 113. It won’t even need the support of JD-S which was hoping to play the kingmaker in the event of a hung assembly predicted by some exit polls.

“We will do a detailed analysis. As a national party, we will not only analyse but also see what deficiencies and gaps were left at various levels. We take this result in our stride,” said Bommai.

Exit polls had suggested that it will be a close race – one that will see the Congress emerge as the single-largest party but not with enough to cross the 113-seat mark.  Karnataka voted in a single phase and recorded a 73.19 per cent voter turnout, according to the state’s chief electoral officer.

Congress started its poll preparation way before BJP admitted Bommai while explaining one of the key reasons for the right-wing party’s defeat in the Karnataka assembly election 2023. “I take responsibility for this debacle. There are multiple reasons for this. We will find out all the reasons and strengthen the party once again for Parliament elections,” he told reporters.

Reacting to the Karnataka election result 2023, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said now the BJP will not have the courage to allow an election in J&K any time soon. The Union Territory is scheduled to go to the polls in 2023.

Congress’ chief ministerial candidate Siddaramaiah said he was confident that the party would win comfortably. Transgender community members are rooting for Siddaramaiah as next CM. “Siddaramaiah will be the CM and will do well for the transgenders and the poor,” one of the members was quoted as saying. Party workers also celebrated at the Congress Party headquarters in Delhi.

There are several reasons for Congress doing well in Karnataka, the only southern state where the BJP was in power. One of the most important reasons was that it focused on local issues instead of getting entangled in the Hindutva rhetoric like the BJP.

Congress, unlike the BJP, was able to put up a united face. The two stalwarts of the Karnataka Congress, DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah have been long known to be at loggerheads. However, the Congress was able to persuade them to bury their differences and they made coordinated well-crafted joint appearances, sending out the message of unity. The Congress also cleverly tapped into women and youth vote-banks. Earlier they used to side with the BJP but this time the Congress made a concerted push and won their support. The Bajrang Dal controversy also helped the Congress and brought about Muslim consolidation in its favour.

There is no denying that BJP leaders both at the Centre and in Karnataka relied too much on the religious card and sought to create a Hindu versus the rest situation by raising religious and communal issues which did not appeal to the electorate. The anti-incumbency factor also worked heavily in favour of the Congress which highlighted corruption in the BJP government and its inability to focus on development.  The defeat in Karnataka is likely to affect BJP’s preparations for 2024 and may also impact its prospects in the upcoming state assembly elections.

It is significant to note that since 1985, Karnataka has voted against the incumbent government every single time. With the exception of 2004 and 2018, when Congress managed to form the government with the help of JD (S), no party has been a part of the Karnataka government for two consecutive terms.

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