Thursday, October 6, 2022
HomeOpinionsAssembly Polls 2023- Understanding Karnataka's Unique Importance In Indian Politics

Assembly Polls 2023- Understanding Karnataka’s Unique Importance In Indian Politics

Also Read

Five BJP ruled states will go to the polls within a year or so. Gujarat and HP would come up first by the end of this year- 2022. Tripura polls are slated for in the early 2023, MP in November 2023, while Karnataka would seek people’s mandate in May 2023. Presently, Gujarat is hogging the limelight. But Karnataka polls probably promise to offer a gruelling contest and have great strategic significance for a number of reasons.

We would try to understand the case of Karnataka polls in a series of two articles. This is the first. It examines the political landscape of the state in general and BJP’s (at present ruling the state) rise in particular and why the party should change the way it views the state. The second part discusses why BJP has not been able to achieve the levels of success it would wish to and what are the ways forward for it on the way to 2023 polls.

Compared to its strategic importance- geographical location, rich history and present day IT leadership- Karnataka has not been getting the importance it deserves in the national context. Poor condition of roads, sluggish implementation of metro rail, fast depleting underground water level, in the state capital may be cited as examples of indifference. Generally speaking the inability of the state to reach its potential can be attributed largely to the apathy of political leadership cutting across party lines. 

The Indian National Congress had won the first three assembly elections and ruled the state from 1956 to 1983 (January) but when a viable alternative came to them in 1983 the people chose Janata Party. But Janata Party’s performance too did not come up to people’s expectations and though the Congress returned to power in November 1989 there was a flux during the period from April 1989 to December 1994 during which the state went through Prez rule twice and witnessed 3 chief ministers from the same party i.e., Congress heading the government.

During the next ten years spanning over 1994-2004 the state was ruled by Congress and JD (S) for 5 years each in succession. The next 3 years following 2004 were a period of political churning marked by the rise of BJP in the state as a potential contender for power. Interestingly this was happening at a time when the BJP led by Vajpayee had lost its hold over the central government following 2004 general elections. The party succeeded in forming a coalition government with JD (S) in February 2006, but it lasted for less than 2 years allegedly for breach of understanding about CM’s post by it partner. The first BJP CM took oath in November 2007 but his government collapsed in 7 days due to squabble over power sharing. However, the party managed to win comfortable numbers in 2008 elections and it governed the state from May 2008 to May 2013. However, the party faced various challenges including allegations of corruption and had to appoint three chef ministers over its 5 years tenure.

The unhappiness of voters with the party’s performance reflected in 2013 poll verdict and Congress got yet another chance to rule the state for next 5 years. However, the results of the next assembly elections held in 2018 showed voters’ frustration with the Congress as well. The people did not give decisive majority to any party, though BJP managed to emerge as the single largest party. However, disregarding the spirit of the mandate the Congress formed a coalition government with the JD (S). That ministry fell in about an year’s time following largescale defection of Congress legislators to BJP whereupon the latter formed it ministry in July 2019 and it continues till date though there has been a change in the CM in July 2021.

A cursory glance at the elections results since 1956 as outlined above indicate a general state of unhappiness of people of the state about performance of various political parties and their yearnings for one whom they can bank upon on a sustainable basis and bringing the glory to the state it so richly deserves. It is for the parties to introspect where they are falling short and take corrective action.

Many analysts say that BJP has a natural ideological connect to majority population of the state. However, the polls results suggest BJP has to do a lot of hard work to get deeply anchored in the voters’ psyche.

The next assembly polls are due in May 2023 and that is re-igniting speculations about whom would the people vote for. While INC, after facing debacle in recent polls in 5 states and especially losing the state of Punjab is bound to go for all out fight, for the JDS it will be kind of a existential challenge. There would also be a fourth force in the form of AAP. With the halo of victory in the Punjab this newbie may try to deploy every strategy and trick at its command, to make a dent in this state before taking a plunge in the 2024 general election. It is certain to leverage issues like ‘eradication of corruption in public services’, ‘regularising unauthorised apartments’ and more such to get an immediate foothold in the state. On the whole, 2023 polls in the state are likely to be contested keenly. This article examines the prospect of BJP, the present ruling party’s returning to power and what would be the enabling conditions for that to happen!

Karnataka was the first state in the south of India to choose BJP in the seat of governance. Since then more than a decade has passed. Considering Karnataka’s strategic geographical position and cultural linkages with its neighbouring states, being in the seat of governance in this state should have helped BJP to extend its footprints in neighbouring southern states considerably. How?

Karnataka is almost at the centre of three southern states viz., TN to its east, Kerala to its south, and Telangana to its north. Plus, the rich legacy of Vijayanagar empire binds it culturally to Andhra Pradesh as well. Coming to the present era, Karnataka is undoubtedly the IT capital of the country and draws very large number of IT professionals from all across India, iin particular these southern states.

Despite all of these, BJP governance in this state does not seem to have produced a favourable demo effect in the neighbouring states in terms of performance. After serving a full term from 2008 to 2013, it failed to secure the repeat mandate in the next elections. Even in 2018 it was not able to secure a decisive majority despite the benefit of anti-incumbency working in its favour. That had made possible for Congress- JD(S) coalition to rule for nearly another 3 years till July 2019 when BJP regained power. But even this come-back could be attributed more to defections than original mandate. The party needs to be aware of this fact and try to convince people to give it a decisive mandate in May 2023 for the all-round development of the state.

Intuitively speaking, the satisfaction of people of Karnataka with the party’s governance record are also likely to give major boost to the party’s footprints in the neighbouring states, which will be a critical component of its overall countrywide expansion programme. These facts should compel BJP to self-introspect both at the central and state level and reinvent itself.

The next article suggests a blue-print for action keeping in mind the May 2023 polls in the state. Any party that implements these shall benefit the people of the state besides reaping rich political dividend for itself. It is easiest for BJP as the party has the unique advantage of the phenomenon of ‘double engine sarkar’

  Support Us  

OpIndia is not rich like the mainstream media. Even a small contribution by you will help us keep running. Consider making a voluntary payment.

Trending now

- Advertisement -

Latest News

Recently Popular