: A decisive defeat in Karnataka will begin BJP’s exit from south India, decide 2024 roadmap #WorldNEWSAll This is not just about Karnataka. The political contest in the state would set the tone and
A decisive defeat in Karnataka will begin BJP’s exit from south India, decide 2024 roadmap #WorldNEWSAll
This is not just about Karnataka. The political contest in the state would set the tone and tenor of the battle to reclaim our republic.
On 10 May, we will witness the general election to the legislative assembly of Karnataka. But that is officialese. In reality, this is not going to be just an election. This is not just about who rules the state for the next five years. This is not just about Karnataka. The political contest in the state would set the tone and tenor of the battle to reclaim our republic.
This assessment is not the usual lazy quip about the state assembly elections in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls being the proverbial “semi-final”. Clearly, a mid-sized south Indian state cannot settle the Lok Sabha election, nor be the barometer for public mood in north and west India where the BJP sweeps Lok Sabha polls.
Arguably, what happens in December in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh would have a greater bearing on the parliamentary polls than this state election a year before the big one. Yet Karnataka is the critical battle that would settle the political trajectory for the next year.
Seeking power and legitimacy
For the BJP, it’s the battle to validate its hegemony, both in terms of power and legitimacy. Karnataka matters directly for the Lok Sabha tally of the BJP. As I have pointed out earlier, the BJP has reached saturation point in the areas of its dominance.
The ruling party has very little room to make up for the losses it is bound to face in several states in 2024. If it loses even half of the 26 (including the seat won by the independent supported by the party) seats it won in Karnataka in 2019, there is nowhere in the country (except partly Telangana) where it can hope to add to its existing tally and make up for these losses. It must retain its hold over Karnataka.
Besides, the logic of dominance goes beyond numbers. Having built an aura of invincibility, it cannot afford to lose a major election, especially in a state where it is the incumbent. It faces a tough task, as the Bommai-led BJP government is widely perceived to be both incompetent and corrupt, besides being brazenly communal.
The success of the “40 per cent sarkara” campaign — a reference to the official protest by the state contractors’ association against a 40 per cent kickback to the government for any state-funded infrastructural projects — is a testimony to how poorly this government is viewed in Karnataka.
Yet the BJP leadership is confident that they can neutralise the ‘image issue’ with clever social engineering, communal polarisation and pots of money. The BJP understands its stakes.