Karnataka bypolls: Cong-JD(S) victory reinforces opp strategy for 2019 LS elections
The victory may also give hope to the opposition parties that are planning to come together to form a rainbow coalition against the BJP led NDA, that is increasingly seen as a Modi-Shah entity
On the eve of Diwali, Karnataka on Tuesday, November 6, sent a cracker of a political booster dose for the Congress and the proposed Mahagatbandhan to take on the Modi government in the 2019 general elections.
More than the victory in four of the five Parliament and state assembly by-elections, it is the quality of the victory and the margins that give the Congress and its coalition partner Janata Dal (Secular) reasons to celebrate the festival of lights with more gusto.
The over two lakh victory margin for Congress candidate in Bellary Lok Sabha seat must be ringing alarm bells in the BJP, which is hoping to repeat its 2014 performance in Karnataka for next Lok Sabha polls. Congress candidate VS Ugrappa won the Bellary seat by a margin of a whopping 2,43,161 votes.
The BJP had won 17 of the 28 seats on offer in Karnataka last time. For sure, the mathematics of the coalition partners and the chemistry between them are both responsible for the polls results that will have a bearing in the next general elections.
Not just in Karnataka, but elsewhere across the country as well. The victory may also give a positive hope to the opposition parties that are planning to come together to form a rainbow coalition against the BJP led NDA, that is increasingly seen as a Modi-Shah entity.
The victory in Bellary is of specific significance in that the Congress has managed to regain ground that it had lost in 2004 and since then it has been a BJP stronghold. The victory margin here indicates a growing disenchantment with the Modi government and its list of unfulfilled promises.
Naturally, the result was ascribed to the poor performance of the Modi government and the state government’s approach to welfare and development by leaders of the coalition.
“People have rejected BJP. It is also a rejection of Modi govt. By poll results will send a message to the entire country that the time for change has come,” said Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief Dinesh Gundu Rao.
The other key Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar too felt the same. He told media persons that “in any democratic result, election process...people's mandate is very important. It's the direction to the people of this country. It will give a message to the whole nation before the 2019 general elections.”
He also lambasted the Hindutva plank being resurrected by the BJP for the elections and said instead people are concerned with economic growth, developments, jobs and performance of the government.
Coming just ahead of the general elections to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram, the Karnataka results will work as a booster dose for the rank and file of the Congress and instil confidence among its cadres
The Karnataka assembly and parliament by-elections, over and above the massive embarrassment of its candidate in Ramanagaram, L Chandrashekhara walking over to the Congress has given the detractors of Yeddyurappa in the BJP a chance to have a go at him. Moreover, in further bad news for Yeddyurappa, in Shivamogga that is his political fiefdom, so to speak, his son BS Raghavendra barely managed to scrape through, with a victory margin that is about 10% of what it was in 2004. For the record his son won the Shivamogga seat with a margin of over 45000 votes in the parliamentary constituency.
BJP spokesperson Vivek Reddy admitted as much that the Bellary loss was a matter of concern and the party will introspect and make the necessary modifications.
However, the BJP officially absolved the prime minister or the functioning of the central government of any responsibility in influencing the outcome of the by-elections. Vivek Reddy tried hard to deny any link between the results and the central government performance and asserted that the results were in no way any referendum on the functioning of the Modi government.
The victory in by-elections reinforced the fact that if the anti-BJP parties got their arithmetic right, then there was a chance to unseat the Modi government that was appearing invincible a few months ago.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said that the coalition will win all the 28 seats from the state. "There are 28 LS seats, we'll work with Congress to win all of them, that is our goal. This election was the first step. This is not an empty boast just because we have won today. This is the confidence of people in us,” he said.
HD Deve Gowda thanked the people of Karnataka for "supporting the development-centric administration of JDS-INC government". He added that people had given a response to "those who were trying to destabilise the state government".
Coming just ahead of the general elections to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram, the Karnataka results will work as a booster dose for the rank and file of the Congress and instil confidence among its cadres.
What the results show is that the Congress and JD (S) alliance was working on the ground despite initial hiccups and all the BJP efforts to destabilise the government. Till recently, the BJP leadership in the state was trying to wean away Congress and JD (S) MLAs to bring down the government and the local media was having a field day with speculations of the fall of the government “in a week or so.”
More important, the elections have also shown that the fighting spirit and abilities among state Congress leaders are still intact. Bellary is a case in point. Here the Congress entrusted the responsibility to its state minister and strongman DK Shivakumar, the same person who is the go-to man whenever the party MLAs are to be protected from being poached, whether they are from Gujarat or Maharashtra or elsewhere. A fearless politician, refusing to buckle down under extreme pressure and a plethora of IT cases against him, Shivakumar staved off threat to Congress MLAs from the BJP predators, by keeping them under his personal guard.
Shivakumar has shown what he is capable of, of being able to match the BJP and beating them in their own game.
In Karnataka, this is the first by-election the coalition partners faced since the government formation earlier this year. The coalition succeeded in keeping the predator, the BJP and its influential leader Yeddyurappa at bay.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy alleged that it was the BJP that was offering huge sums of money, as large as ₹25 crore to ₹30 crore to MLAs of the Congress and JD(S) but was failing to poach them.
In personal victory for him, his wife Anitha Kumaraswamy retained the Ramanagaram seat that he vacated with a margin of over one lakh votes.
His opponent, Yeddyurappa admitted that Bellary and Jamakhandi were a painful setback to the party. This is a warning to us and we need to begin work there right away, he said. The ruling coalition he alleged was using money, muscle and government power to win elections, he said.
“We will introspect the results of Bellary and move ahead. We are confident that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be completely ours,” Yeddyurappa said.