As Karnataka heads for elections, it would be a limus lest for Modi’s demonetization and GST moves
“Ache Din” is a slogan, now has begun to mean “Sub se bure din” for Modi Sarkar. For the people of India, 2014 was a turning point in Indian Politics that saw a Modi wave but with the economic slowdown brought on by demonetization and GST , is now seen as a self inflicting wound for the BJP. This phenomenon of “ Ache Din “ has begun to mean “Sub se Bure Din” in the political atmosphere of Karnataka. Karnataka is the only state where Congress is the ruling party in south India. This coming general election will decide the direction Indian politics will take if history is to go by. In 1969 the Congress split into CONGRESS – R and CONGRESS – O. CONGRESS – R emerged victorious with Mrs Indira Gandhi becoming the true Leader of the CONGRESS party. The next cross roads that the CONGRESS party faced were after emergency. The second resurrection of the CONGRESS party was decided by Chikmagalur by-election, when Mrs. Indira Gandhi emerged victorious against Janata party candidate Mr.Veerendra Patil. The people of Karnataka in the ensuing assembly elections returned the CONGRESS party with the majority, this resurrection in the state was led by Mr.Devarajan Urs . In Karnataka the trend for last few state general elections has seen the phenomenon, where the people of Karnataka have voted a Government which is opposite to the party in the center. This election is going to settle many political variables that have been debated and discussed in various forums.
Modi Sarkar can survive the “demonetization and GST “impact?
Surely the economic slowdown and the impact of taxes have started to hurt the middle class and poor in real terms. On the other hand Rahul Gandhi is all set to take over the mantle from Sonia Gandhi who led U.P.A successfully forming U.P.A 1&2. Karnataka is at the forefront of being the bastion to protect and re-elect the grand old party. The BJP on the other hand are going to be tested on the concept of “ Modi Sarkar “, BJP in the last general election never projected their party as a BJP Government but built their entire campaign around Mr. Narendra Modi. Since the BJP put all the eggs in one basket “ Modi Sarkar “ By default they as a party have indirectly admitted that Mr. Narendra Modi is bigger than the party, therefore its stands to the reason, that the coming referendum in Karnataka will be a test of Mr. Narendra Modi ‘s track record as a prime minister and as an administrator.
The congress party Mr. Siddaramaiah the Chief Minister of Karnataka has given a stable and corruption free Government. His programmes of social upliftment and providing subsidized food that includes “ Indira Canteen “ and “ 5kgs of Rice” under “ Anna Bhagya Scheme” has been an outstanding success both in the cities and rural areas . Barring a few political hiccups, no major scandals have rocked this Government; it is a testimonial of good governance. The congress party has fulfilled almost 90 percent of the promises it had made in its election manifesto of 2013. The Karnataka Government under the stewardship of Mr. Siddaramaiah unilaterally waived the loans to farmers. The Central Government has given no help in this regard but on the other hand
they have been supportive to the other states where their party in Power. The congress government has handled the Cauvery issue without any major confrontation with its neighboring states. They have also handled the drought situation and power situation with great efficiency. The farming sector has seen a supportive and helpful government with many programs that has allowed this sector to see real growth. In the BJP, the major players are yeddyurappa , Ananth Kumar, Eshwarappa and Jagadish Shettar are rivals, they carry the onerous task of trying to present clean slate to the voters of Karnataka, knowing that they had presided, over the most corrupt tenure in the history of Karnataka politics with many of leaders has having spent time in jail. During the last tenure of the BJP .The party had to change the Chief Minister on two occasions and had the dubious distinction of having three Chief Ministers in five years. Mr. yediyurappa had a dubious distinction of being the only Chief Minister in the history of Karnataka to be jailed on charges of Corruption.
With Mr. yediyurappa back at the helm of affairs, a running battle between him and Mr. eshwarappa has ensued. This standoff continues to this not with standing the high commands intervention. The present BJP unit in Karnataka has become totally reliant on the central leadership and hopes that the magic of Mr. Narendra Modi and Mr. Amit Shah will bail them out of this quagmire.
However the Modi wave which has now become the talking point does it still means hope? Therefore, the electorate of Karnataka will answer this question in the coming elections. With the party high command being busy with the Gujarat elections in the home state of Mr. Narendra Modi, no concrete plans or programs have been announced by the local Karnataka BJP. It is rumored that the high command of BJP will resort to strong arm tactics like having Ministers raided through the Income Tax Department and other departments to create a scenario and paint the CONGRESS Party in Karnataka as corrupt. The old BJP tactic of creating communal tension may also come to the fore. It’s seems that other than the Mr. Modi narrative, there seems to be no issues that can capture the imagination of the people. It’s seems under the stewardship of yediyurappa, the cadre zeal is missing. yeddyurappa has been projected as the CM candidate; it’s rumored that he will not be made the CM due to his health. This has not gone down well with the Lingayat community. This community is the backbone of the BJP. Added to this the Lingayats are demanding that they be recognized as a separate religion, the demand is opposed by the BJP. These factors have contributed in emergence of many Chief Minister aspirants within the Party and hence riddled with dis- sent. Mr. Amit Shah during his last visit to Bangalore has not helped the cause by stating “that many of the sitting MLA’s may not be given another chance and that he will be the final say in ticket distribution”, this atmosphere of fear and uncertainty exists in BJP .
The Third Party JDS It is a father and son party led by Former Prime minister of India Mr. H.D Devegowda and in the supporting cast are his two Sons H.D Kumarswamy and H.D Revanna .
They hope to be the King makers if the conditions for a collation Government where to arise. Presently they are in the process of keeping their flock together. Recently seven MLA’s have decided to leave their party and there is a distinct possibility that more of them may fol- low suit. The CONGReSS so far as been the beneficiary of this migration. JDS is banking on the charisma of Mr. H.D. Devegowda to resurrect the fortunes of the party.
The JDS has presence in old Mysore regions and generally cut into congress vote bank in the cities. In Bangalore city the mayor and the deputy mayor posts are shared by the congress and JDS respectively. In the rural areas JDS projects itself as a champion of the farmers, H.D.Devegowda has built this party around the slogan “son of the soil”. It remains to be seen if this “son of the soil” political concept is going to be relevant among the farmers who have not had any major problems with onset of good monsoons this year.
The unfolding story In the coming months the results from Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat will be announced. These results may not have any direct bearing on the outcome in Karnataka, certainly will carry a perception mes- sage. In Karnataka politics caste politics has played a major role in shaping elections, many a time this has taken a back seat especially when political waves have overshadowed local equations. Anti incumbency has also played a major part in the past. The major communities have played a decisive role when phenomenon such as a political wave or anti incumbency has been absent. Congress is a party that believes in social justice and will follow a system of balancing social classes and win ability as a criterion for seat selection. This formula is a delicate task, if the recipe is right, a formidable approach to winning an election BJP on the other hand has no such compulsions “horses for courses “is their strategy built around polarization of the Hindu vote. However there
is confusion among the Lingayat voters over their demand for a separate religion status which the BJP has opposed. This community has been the bedrock of the party. The congress party on the other hand has been sympathetic to their demands. JDS on the other hand will try to muster their base and hope to wean away as many “Vokkaligas” the other major community from the congress. “Vokkaligas” predominantly are from the south of Karnataka. They will also try to get the Muslim community to back them. They have in the past accommodated disgruntled candidates from the other parties. The elections of 2018 are going to be a game changer in south India and may also have a great impact on national politics. At stake is the prestige of Modi government, anti incumbency and realignment of local caste equation.
By Thimmaiah shreepada Renu