By Pradyut Hande:
The Congress’ sweeping victory in the Karnataka State Assembly elections has certainly put things into perspective. Capitalising significantly on the prevalent anti-incumbency mood throughout the state, the Congress’ impressive performance has brought an end to the BJP’s tumultuous 7 year reign. This does come as a major body blow for the BJP which was hoping to tide over its tribulations and maintain its Southern bastion. However, its miserable showing doesn’t come as much of a surprise given the fact that its tenure was ostensibly marked by political instability, ambivalent leadership, economic mismanagement, debatable policy formulation and inept governance at best.
However, it is the staggering level of corruption and the BJP’s shambolic efforts or lack thereof, at suitably addressing each unravelling scandal that has fuelled public antipathy of an unparalleled degree against them. Whether it was the illegal mining scandal that saw the dismissal and subsequent arrest of erstwhile Tourism Minister, Janardhan Reddy; or the land denotification scam; the BJP appeared to be scouting trouble every month. In fact, such was the magnitude of the mining scandal that investigations revealed the involvement of the then Chief Minister, BS Yeddyurappa himself who subsequently bagged the dubious distinction of becoming the first serving Chief Minister of an Indian state to serve jail time. The beleaguered Government’s periodic clashes with the state Lokayukta further tarnished its plummeting image.
Add to that incongruous mix, the disparate short term reigns of three Chief Ministers in seven years and one certainly has a “saffron” recipe for disaster. BS Yeddyurappa’s obstinacy may have finally been tempered through his forced resignation. However, true to his firebrand personality, the wily politician quit the BJP to float his very own Karnataka Janata Party (KJP). The fact that he masterminded the resignation of 12 key legislators along with him further aggravated the BJP’s then increasingly precipitous standing.
All these factors combined with a visible disregard for voter sentiment and an eventually calamitous miscalculation of the Congress’ might have led to the BJP’s spectacular downfall. The BS Yeddyurappa led KJP also ate into the BJP’s vote bank, further sealing its fate. The result is symptomatic of the party’s multi-lateral failure and abominable governance record. The old adage – Perform or Perish – perhaps best sums up the tidings of a robust democratic framework and is a lesson that the BJP has had to learn the hard way.
Is this victory a portent of bigger things to come for the Congress during the general elections? One can’t say with great assurance if that is the case as the UPA Government’s track record itself isn’t exactly inspiring. What one can say with certitude is that political parties cannot hope to remain in power without delivering on their promises, consistently. Undermining the electoral power of the average voter will only work against them, and massively so.