Mainstream Weekly

Home > 2023 > 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections have disproved the TINA factor | Faraz (...)

Mainstream, VOL 61 No 20, May 13, 2023

2023 Karnataka Assembly elections have disproved the TINA factor | Faraz Ahmad

Saturday 13 May 2023, by Faraz Ahmad


May 14, 2023

The urban elite inclined right wards economically but a bit embarrassed of the communal fascist side of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, keeps grumbling helplessly that There Is No Alternative (TINA) to Modi, even if his antics and acts are unpalatable to many of them. And they say that people vote Modi out of sheer lack of an alternative.

The Prime Minister wrapped up his rallies, road shows campaign for his BJP with 19 rallies and six road shows, according to the Times of India. That is not taking into account Modi’s frequent visit to the state going to polls before the announcement of elections. Add to this equally regular public meetings, rallies etcetera of BJP Chanakya Amit Shah and BJP President J.P.Nadda. Not to forget the big guns, notorious for whipping up communal passions like UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Assam CM Hemant Biswa Sarma. It was carpet bombing by the BJP in Karnataka.

When Rahul Gandhi spent 22 days touring Karnataka in the first lap of his Bharat Jodo Yatra last winter, many skeptics mocked and ridiculed Rahul, describing it as a waste of time and energy. He entered Karnataka on September 30, 2022 and covered 20 assembly constituencies. In these 20 constituencies in 2018 elections the Congress won only 5 seats, while BJP won 9 and the JD-S, 6. May 13 results show, this time Congress won 15 seats, JD-S, 3 and BJP only 2. One of the public meetings Rahul addressed during his yatra was under an open sky in a heavy downpour drenched to the bone. It is evident then that the message of love and tolerance that Rahul sought to convey left a lasting impression on the people, more specifically the youth of Karnataka.

It made sense then for Rahul, Priyanka, and Sonia Gandhi to put al their energy and effort in Karnataka which they did, even Sonia addressing at least one rally there. And it did unnerve Modi who the very next day levelled a false accusation of at Sonia claiming she talked of the ‘sovereignty’ of Karnataka in her speech. He also pejoratively called Sonia and her siblings “Shahi Parivar” meaning the royal family. The video showed she never used this word or its derivative. All she talked of was the culture, the language and the distinctiveness of Karnataka, which was highly appreciated in the face of BJP/RSS attempt to drown all the Kannadigas in their passion for Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan.

The BJP never got a clear mandate in Karnataka in 2013 or 2018 but formed a government on the strength of money power, by buying Congress and JD-S legislators. That led to a high degree of corruption and misgovernance, with people calling it a government of 40%, referring to the charge of a contractor who committed suicide alleging the BJP government’s demand of 40 percent commission for awarding a project to him and the Contractors’ Association went to town on this. This led to a huge anti-incumbency factor against the government of chief minister Basvaraj Bommai, a late entrant. And therefore it was evident that this time round the BJP numbers would fall considerably short of the halfway mark.

But like last two times the BJP leaders were confident that they could repeat the game of 2013 and 2018 through money and muscle power if it were a hung assembly. BJP MP Tejaswai Surya, a communal rabble-rouser and lumpen element, did succeed in forcing to overturn the election results of Jayanagar constituency in Bangalore by forcing his entry into the counting station and pressurising the officers to announce that BJP’s C.K. Ramamurthy won by 16 votes against Congress’ Sowmya Reddy, even after Sowmya Reddy was declared elected. Imagine if the Congress majority had been only wafer thin, the BJP would have started its ‘Operation Lotus’ immediately after the announcement of results. That’s where the continued presence of Kharge, Rahul, and Priyanka helped keep the morale of their party and the anti-BJP voter alive and in high spirit to ensure a decisive victory for their party.

Karnataka, therefore, proves that persistent and determined honest campaign against ‘hate’ pays and pays well. It reminds one of Barrack Obama’s call with all hands together, ‘Yes we can’. Yes, we truly can, if we put our heart and soul, and all energy into it. There are quiet a few assembly elections due this year before we go to the 2024 general elections. In Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh Congress is in direct fight with the BJP and winning all these three is crucial for the Congress if it has to disprove demonstrably the TINA factor. After the exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia, there is not much dissidence in MP. But Rajasthan is on the boil thanks to the public showdown between chief minister Ashok Gehlot, an old and tiring warhorse and the young and energetic former Deputy CM and state president Sachin Pilot. It threatens to tear asunder the Congress legislative party in that state unless the Congress leadership intervenes urgently and resolves the dispute to the satisfaction of both Gehlot and Pilot. Looks improbable though. But it needs to be done and post haste, lest this one also goes the Punjab way where the Congress threw the opportunity following the political eclipse of the Akali Dal and the BJP, through their several follies and are today completely out of race.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra has had a positive impact on wider population of the country, wherever Rahul went in his walkathon from Kanyakumari to Srinagar in Kashmir. But can this translate into votes, specially in states like the most crucial Uttar Pradesh where Sonia Gandhi was the lone Congress winner in 2019. Even Rahul Gandhi lost, of all the people to Smriti Irani, in his pocket borough Amethi. Today the situation in UP is that with a communally surcharged UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath flaunting his bias against the overwhelming Muslim population of the state, and the Dalits being targeted every day with no redressal, thanks to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati refusing to challenge the BJP, are feeling unprotected and without a leader to stand up for them. Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav sometimes makes some faint noise only for record purposes but has failed to mobilise his cadres to come out on the streets to challenge the communal, casteist tyranny of the BJP. This then is an ideal situation for the Congress to rise and challenge the BJP and Priyanka Gandhi has it in her to give a fight. So even though Congress is too weak to take on the BJP in all the 81 Lok Sabha seats of UP, in 2024, if it fields strong and creditable leaders in select constituencies, without coming in an open clash with the BSP and more importantly the SP, then it has a good chance to encash upon the people’s discontent with the BJP. Already during the Bharat Jodo Yatra Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary a dependable ally of the SP supported and joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Best case scenario would be for the Congress, SP, RLD alliance to fight the general elections together. But that is still quite a distance away. First, the Congress has to prove its mettle in MP, Rajasthan, and Chhatisgarh. Everything depends on whether the Congress leadership can chug forward with the same steam it demonstrated in Karnataka or it starts losing it in the coming days and months.

ISSN (Mainstream Online) : 2582-7316 | Privacy Policy|
Notice: Mainstream Weekly appears online only.