Whoever forms the Government, BJP’s win showed up a communal, divisive Congress
Someone has to tell the Congress that when we advise it to get its act together in the interest of a vibrant democracy that includes all shades of mainstream political opinion, it doesn’t mean get more divisive and play to the communal gallery even more than it has in the past. The results of the elections to the Karnataka Assembly announced on Tuesday in which the BJP emerged as the single-largest party by far and in touching distance of a simple majority are a clear indicator that the Congress Party has still not understood how India has changed. And then party matriarch and former president Sonia Gandhi wonders out aloud why people consider the Congress a party of (religious) minorities! Outgoing Karnataka Chief Minister K Siddaramaiah and his Congress administration, which was doling out favors, looking after its own and generally doing the whole mai-baap sarkar number with graft and patronage variations thrown in which is what we have come to expect of most State Governments in India regardless of political affiliation with a few exceptions, was coasting for four years in a semi-somnambulistic slumber before waking up over the past year. And what a disaster that was. Trying to divide the Hindu/Indic cultural and civilizational ethos according to Abrahamic notions of ‘religion’ by recommending that the Lingayat/Veerashaiva community be granted ‘minority religion’ status; supping with the radical Islamist PFI and its pernicious off-shoots and even trying to stich up an alliance with them; attempting to forge a so-called AHINDA social coalition that further divides society including the Dalit community; alliance standing by idly as two score young RSS/BJP activists were murdered by activists and anti-socials suspected to have links with the aforementioned Islamic radicals; using the gruesome murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh by vicious, brainwashed bigots to try and gain brownie points with the Church and Muslim clergy; hastening the descent of the State Capital Bangalore into an urban nightmare of burning lakes, endless traffic, insufferable pollution and garbage-lined streets; the list is long. Yes, the Congress did put in place some decent and by all accounts reasonably effective welfare schemes. But that’s (one aspect) of the damn job these public servants whether of the Congress, BJP or regional variety are elected and paid to do so no prizes for doing a part of it right. That more than one-third of the Congress’ sitting MLAs including some heavyweight ministers did not get re-elected is a pointer to the strong anti-incumbency mood.
The BJP, on the other hand, led a broadly inclusive campaign, spoke of One India, pushed for consolidating the nation’s Indic ethos in which all are treated equally and none is appeased and showcased its record as a development-infrastructure and rule of law party. Bar the one unacceptable reference by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the heat of the campaign to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s “mother’s mother tongue” while challenging him to a debate, it was a clean, effective and brilliant campaign of which Modi’s rallies were the highlight and could have led to a three per cent swing in the BJP’s favor by some estimates. The election machine led by BJP president Amit Shah and the even more dedicated work of committed party and Sangh workers especially in the Coastal, Bengaluru and Mumbai Karnataka regions of the State showed in the seats tally. In riding out criticism of rehabilitating the Reddy brothers because their induction was on the party’s terms and giving due respect to stalwart BS Yeddyurappa without letting him run the show single-handedly even while ensuring his son did not contest, was meant to send out the clear message that in the Modi-Shah BJP, realpolitik may have to be practiced but corrupt and/or nepotistic tendencies would be strangulated. As for the Janata Dal (Secular), well, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and his son HD Kumaraswamy — now in contention for Chief Minister thanks to Congress’ offer of support though Yeddyurappa remains the frontrunner — always were going to end up on the winning side if there was no clear majority for any party as long as they kept their Vokkaliga farming community base intact, which they have.