Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
BJP has recorded a near historic victory in Karnataka. It fell short of the magic number by a few seats. The Congress, on the other hand, which had pinned its hopes on the state, has been stunned. Oddly enough, while all surveys gave Siddaramaiah, the chief minister of Karnataka, a rating of 50%, he lost in one of the two constituencies from where he contested.
JD(S) which had been seen as a king or kingmaker is back in the reckoning. Rahul Gandhi, however, has not been able to win a single election under his leadership, which is definitely a cause for concern.
It appears as if the mode, method and philosophies of political parties have played a key role in determining the verdict. Had Congress been able to win Karnataka decisively, it would have served as a tonic for the 2019 polls. The credit for BJP's performance in Karnataka definitely goes to PM Modi and Amit Shah. The duo took Karnataka as a prestigious election and fought it accordingly. They did not hesitate to encash the popularity of Gali Janardhana Reddy, when needed.
The BJP announced that Yeddyurappa would be its chief ministerial candidate. Some disagreed with this strategy. At the same time, the BJP also seemed to know how to fight the election understanding the nuances of categories of castes.
There is an impression that the BJP could succeed in tapping into dissidence in the Congress party. It was speculated that this could boomerang on the BJP. Lingayats were divided into a separate religion by the Congress and many thought that this could cut into the BJP vote.
UPA got defeated in some states even though nationally it was the largest party with power at the Centre. It is true that measures like demonetisation and GST had indeed inconvenienced the general public. Petrol and diesel rates have also gone through the roof. If the BJP wishes to fare better, it should check this. Similarly, in BJP ruled states there have been instances of attacks on Dalits, which need to be acted upon.
As regards the Telugu states, KCR called out directly for support to JD(S), while Chandrababu Naidu threw his weight behind the Congress, indirectly. The BJP is clearly unhappy with what Chandrababu has done. KCR, however, has every reason to be happy because the JD(S) got more seats than it did the last time. Had the BJP lost the election decisively, Chandrababu Naidu would have claimed credit for its loss. Instead, he is now overcome by a fear of what the Centre might do. He is also haunted by the reputation of someone responsible for trying to divide the Telugu community in Karnataka. What the Karnataka verdict reveals is that the BJP ought to be circumspect now as it approaches 2019.