Karnataka election is done, and it has yielded an enigmatic kind of voting pattern. With the polls coming up in 2019, it was vital for BJP and Congress to have better results and hence a better prospect in the upcoming polls. Congress led by Siddaramaiah has performed miserably in terms of winning seats. One reason can be anti-incumbency towards one government while other can be the dismal performance of Congress in terms of development. BJP had emerged as a single largest party in the state while JD(S) was able to retain its vote share and dented the prospects of Congress. After the results, JD(S) is forming the government with the support of Congress. At the same time, BJP, the single largest party in the state, is also claiming to form the government.
In one of my earlier articles on YKA, I had briefly talked about the permutation and combination before the election. I also analysed the caste-wise vote share of different caste group in Karnataka. In addition to this, I had the premonition that both BJP and Congress were posing aggressively for this election but were not confident for their core constituency. Rather, they were more focused on the split of other party’s vote. For example, Congress was dependent on the split of Lingayata vote while BJP on Vokalinga and other OBC & SC’s vote. But, contrary to these parties, JD(S) was focusing on its core voters rather than beating around the bush. It also strengthened its presence by getting support from BSP and AIMM.
This election has once again proved that In India caste reality is the ultimate reality. One can talk largely about development, good governance etc. but it is the caste which precedes everything and matters the most in politics. The caste identity plays a trump card in determining the winner of any election, and hence every political party in India meticulously plays this card. Every political party distributes tickets solely on the basis of caste as caste has been acknowledged more in politics than in society. Every political party has successfully mastered the art of distributing tickets according to the caste demography of the constituencies.
Also, we cannot eschew from the fact that charismatic personalities also exist in politics. The charismatic personality of Mr Modi is undeniable but even if we ignore him in this race, then also the only other thing that matters is caste. We have witnessed this in Phulpur and Gorakhpur, we have seen it in Karnataka. The parties like JD(S), BSP and AIMM were able to safeguard their forte not because of their governance or charisma but because of their interesting chemistry of identity.
Modi, Shah & Jaitley were doing what they do together.
Modi got them the face, Shah got them the aggressiveness and election strategy, Jaitley smoothed out the edges and made it all digestible.
With Jaitley indisposed, only two are left. That was very evident in Karnataka.
— Meghnad (@Memeghnad) May 21, 2018
All the saga of development, governance and aura of Siddharamiya flunked to deliver him victory in Chamudeshwari, and he has to fight very hard in Badami. He and his 16 ministers have lost the election despite all their hue and cry of media houses and Rahul Gandhi. This election paved the way for more openness in 2019 general election. This election has shaken the credibility of Congress, but at the same time, it also revealed that people are not going to have blind faith in one party, let alone the BJP. They are not buying all arguments of opposition against BJP, nor they are rejecting regional strongman. There is an inherent connection between their identity and the leader who represents their identity.
This election and JD(S), BSP and AIMM alliance also discloses the fact that the alliance may not guarantee vote consolidation as the share of BSP has dropped dramatically and it could get only one seat out of 20 contested seats. The alliance between the leader of the party and alliance of the community are two different things. Sometime and somewhere it can get success while on the other hand, it can also taste defeat. The alliance of community may be able to win this election, but it cannot win the actual representation of people.
The election strategy of BJP and Congress could have delivered them the full majority but it could not because caste politics still matters the most to people and they have tried to accommodate JD(S) by not ditching this party. BJP has to understand that it cannot obliterate all the regional parties in one go. It can delve into weakening Congress but cannot do the same with the regional parties. If BJP wants to rule as a central government, then it has to be inclusive and give space to regional parties in the states. BJP has to rethink its ambitious mission to rule in the state just like Congress did in 50’s and has to understand that caste and the class reality of India has been changed a lot since the 50s.