Sunday, May 25, 2008

BJP the winner in Karnataka

In an election result that has the potential to have an effect on the fortunes of 2 of the largest political parties in India, the hard fought Karnataka elections has seen the coming of the BJP to the cusp of power in a South Indian state. Till now the BJP has always been castigated as the party of North India, and that South India would always be out of its grasp. However, ever since the last election when the BJP became the largest political party (until the Congress merged some breakaway legislators), the BJP has always been seeing this dream as around the corner. First it agreed to support the JD(S) for half the term, and then when its turn came, it was betrayed by the same party (not something knew to the party since Mayawati has done the same to the party earlier).
There are many points that the BJP can claim with this victory:
- The claim of finally having broken into the states of South India
- Being able to beat back infighting and cashing in on a sympathy wave (so even though the BJP was part of the previous Government, it did not get tainted with any anti-incumbency wave
- Continuing in a string of victories after the morale enhancing Gujarat victory; something that is likely to keep the morale of the cadres high
- The emergence of another strong BJP leader in the form of B S Yeddyurappa who fought off all intra-party dissidence (for the time being at least)

The Congress will have to face some questions after this defeat:
- The Congress can claim that their vote share remained intact, but the fact is that all the vote shift was in favor of the BJP and the Congress was not able to capitalize on being in power in the state for the last 6 months during President's rule
- Their much vaunted winning claim of the Gandhi family took another knock, but since nobody will say this inside the party, you can be sure that all other scapegoats will be found in the form of inability of the Central Government to control inflation as well as appearing weak on the internal security angle
- Any hope that they had of trying to cross the Left party on some reforms as well as the nuclear deal will be further out of the window

The JD(S) has had a massive reduction in its seats, and corresponding credibility on the political scene.

However, not everything is rosy for the BJP. They will be ruling with a razor thin majority, and any strong dissidence is bound to cause problems. In addition, the BJP over-promised in terms of free power, easier loans, lower price food, etc, and will have to arrange for funds to pay for all this. It also needs to show a better mode of governance.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 4:30 AM