Election results of the Karnataka Assembly which has catapulted Congress to the seat of power will resonate in the knowledgeable circles. It is the fourth one of the similar kind so far as the outcome is concerned.
Read with previous year’s Himachal Pradesh Assembly election and two elections of Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Himachal Pradesh ; the result has many things to tell.
That so called ‘Nationalism' and the sectarian rhetoric can be hyped to a limit where after they turn into the story of diminishing returns: that ‘local' has preference over ‘national' when it comes to the real business of providing bread, butter and the shelter.
Issue of corruption too found traction with the Karnataka electors. Common thread of these results is that BJP which as usual went into these elections armed with all available political and “other” ammunition has failed to find favor with the electorate .
Out of many, one message is loud that the result has rejuvenated the sagging morale of Congress party and its leadership which may stand them in a good stead at the time when preparations for 2024 Lok Sabha election are afoot.
That given a little bit of more effort, at the ground level, much of its lost political space can be salvaged . One may not ignore the fact that this is the first major victory of the INC coming after successful culmination of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
This result gives us hope that fundamentals of the Idea of India cherished by the visionary leaders of freedom struggle are well founded to withstand any stormy weather.
We live in a highly polarized world where societies have fallen apart on bigoted considerations. Fear and suspicion rule the day. Our story is no different . The Karnataka result transcending sectarian rhetoric is welcome. It may unite communities and dispel sense of insecurity among the people.
The B JP must seriously introspect that it is for the second time in a year when PM Narrandra Modi’s appeal to the voters has failed to hold sway when it came to the state elections.
In HP, the PM told voters not to bother too much about the contesting candidates, keep him in mind and then put stamp on the Lotus symbol which will straightway reach him as their “Prashad.” In Karnataka he spent weeks together actively canvassing for the BJP. But the move didn’t yield dividends. Even emotive sloganeering didn’t help the party.
Emotions in politics play part up to a point and in the long run matters of bread and butter influence a voter’s choice. True, the elections in states are fought on local issues so the electoral reversal should not be seen as a reflection on working the central government.
But then BJP doesn’t shy away from interjecting national issues even to a municipal election. Earlier, the party carried issue of 370 to the places in Maharashtra, Haryana, HP and recently to Karnataka to lure voters but of no avail. It is time to learn limits of the hyper ‘nationalistic fervor' and sectarian political rhetoric .
For the people in J&K Karnataka election throws up many possibilities. The politicians can take heart that something can be retrieved from the tremor of August the 5th , 2019. It may add to their confidence that this constitutional tinkering didn’t help much BJP in last BDC elections which were held soon after 5th Aug 2019.
The party couldn’t win even 1 /3rd of the 307 seats which went to the polling. It shows that despite its vast reach and huge resources the BJP can be challenged successfully on a local political turf , where PM Modi too may not be able to pull it up.
Kashmir based political parties like NC and PDP have potential and capacity to reclaim major part of the political ground lost in the wake of neutralization of Art 370.
They only have to put their house in order and must reach out to the people afresh, address their real issues of bread and butter and not waste time and energy in pampering to the emotive issues.
Everyone in Kashmir is not for Pakistan or Independence. Many of them have sacrificed their everything for India. They deserve better life, regard for their sensitivities and a say in the state government which, to some extent, election may provide them with.
It is a good sign that every political player in J&K is eagerly waiting for Assembly elections . Farooq Abdullah has admitted his party’s mistake of not taking part in local body elections, held in 2018 and has announced NC’s participation in the assembly elections. According to him, it is not wise to give a walk over to ‘others' in a political field. This may bode well for the political and social climate of the Valley, as it would make elections more meaningful.
A caveat! Having seen what happened to its poll prospects in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and now in Karnataka, will BJP top brass risk an unfavorable poll result in J &K- particularly in Kashmir - where political terrain has generally been rough and tough for the national parties to tread on? In all probability, people in J&K may have to wait till National Poll of 2024 is over.
B L SARAF, former Principal District & Sessions Judge
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.