Five years back, when I got down at the Yeswanthpur railway station in Bangalore, I didn’t have a single idea about the state. Nor did I plan to fall in love with the city or the state. Then, it became Bengaluru – a city of melancholy for me. The city pubs, Brigade Road, Shivaji Nagar and other parts of the city witnessed my first days as a journalist.
A clueless journalist I was. But today, sitting in Delhi as a political journalist and watching the developments of the 2018 Karnataka elections, reminded me of my early days as a clueless journalist.
The story of a hung assembly in the state is well-known now. People are now awaiting the decision of the governor, who, by the way, happens to be a well-known former BJP functionary. Despite being the single largest party, the BJP is still not sure about its future in the state. Or maybe, it has all been decided already.
Karnataka was one of the last-existing Congress-ruled states in India – and for sure, the result has clearly revealed the lack of leadership on the part of the Congress. The chief minister himself has lost in one of his constituencies. Meanwhile, their chief campaigner – the president of the Congress party – has, as usual, vanished from the scene.
But, the election this time also has a mixed narrative. A coalition government of the JD(S) and the Congress, if formed, will only further strengthen the importance of a ‘third front’ in the 2019 election. The election results have also clarified that the Congress should rethink their leadership and political strategy. It is clear that Congress does not have the power to pull off a single election on its own anymore. Moreover, in my opinion, Rahul Gandhi has no potential to be the Prime Minister of India.
However, the results have also established the fact that to combat the fascist BJP, a coalition is much needed. The possible coalition of both parties will not only help in the formation of united opposition (at the national level too) – it will also reinforce the idea that regional parties will play a major role in putting down the BJP.
On one hand, the results show the faulty strategies of the Congress – such as the decision to give minority status to the Lingayats. On the other hand, it also shows that the BJP is now the most organised party in India.
The campaigns of PM Narendra Modi, the organisational power of Amit Shah, the hard work of the RSS and the booth-level communication between the BJP volunteers are all commendable. But, questions of muscle power and monetary dealings have also been raised in this election. Prior to the election, it was clear how much money the BJP had invested in its campaign. And the way the BJP chose to side with the Reddy brothers was perhaps more telling, in this regard.
If a BJP government is formed, then the party will probably indulge in horse-trading because that seems to be the only way for the party to pass the floor test. All these factors clearly show the narrative of money and power behind the election. The 2018 Karnataka election, thus, was an eye-opener for me, regarding the future of Indian politics. It was a mixed narrative of hope, future, muscle power and money.