Bengaluru, Nov 6: When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to wrest control of Karnataka from the Congress in the Assembly elections in May, it was not just a simple defeat but also a humiliation of sort for the party couldn't accept the fact that it fell short of the majority mark despite ending up as the largest party. For the Opposition, the result was welcome and especially for the Congress, it meant that it did not lose its last big state in the country. The BJP kept on waiting for the coalition government between the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) to collapse for it believed that the cooperation between the two parties was temporary.
Almost six months since the Karnataka Assembly election results came out, the BJP was in for more shock. By-elections were held in five seats (three Lok Sabha and two Assembly) and the Congress-JD(S) combine won the battle 4-1. The alliance won Mandya and Bellary Lok Sabha seats and Ramnagara and Jamkhandi Assembly seats while the saffron party could succeed in retaining Shimoga, the fortress of its heavyweight state leader BS Yeddyurappa.
Days before the next set of Assembly elections in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh that are ruled by the BJP besides Telangana and Mizoram, the by-election results in Karnataka will put the BJP in some kind of doubt.
BJP's national and local scripts dashed
There are two major reasons for this doubt. One, both the BJP's national and local scripts have somewhat been dashed in Karnataka, six months apart. The party's top brass had made development the central agenda during the Assembly elections in May but yet could not give the finishing touches to its 'Congress-Mukt' Bharat campaign.
Locally, BSY was given a free hand during that election and he failed miserably. In the by-election also, the BJP nowhere found a BSY magic to do the job which means the regional heavyweight has fast found himself as a dented force. There is also a growing dissatisfaction over BSY within the BJP and the two losses in one year mean those dissenting voices will grow stronger. The anti-BSY voices will actually be unhappy that the BJP managed to keep BSY's fortress under its control as a loss there would have ensured the Lingayat leader's fall even faster.
The fall of BSY might make its critics in the party happy but for the party, it will not be a too happy news for the saffron brigade doesn't have too many local faces in Karnataka, or for that matter in South India, to bank on. BSY was their first chief minister in South India who came to power in 2008 but in the last decade, the leader has slipped. Patriarch LK Advani, who had once strongly objected to BSY's return to the party because of his corrupt image, will be happy.
The Karnataka by-poll results will mean the BJP is yet to produce a bigger magic in South India, even under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The battle in these parts is different from the one the saffron party fights in the North and the latest by-poll verdict (the margins of some of which, for example in Bellary, are really worrying for the BJP) will make the top brass burn even more midnight oil in six months from now.
For Oppn, these results mean poll-winning alliance is possible
For the Opposition, these results will be confidence-boosting. The Congress will be particularly happy and should now concentrate on replicating the Karnataka model to other parts of the country ahead of the next Lok Sabha election.
It recently received blows from an important regional leader like Mayawati but it now depends on its president Rahul Gandhi and his aides to ensure that the Congress makes fast business to win more stable allies across the nation. The by-election results proved that if the top leaders can bury their differences and settle for a stable alliance, the anti-BJP votes can solidify and come to the Opposition's kitty and make the apparently tough mission of defeating Modi look possible.