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June 15, 2008
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June 15, 2008

Page: 8/41

Home > 2008 Issues > June 15, 2008

The Moving Finger Writes

Karnataka: BJP in; Congress out

By M.V. Kamath

After losing Karnataka, it is clear that the time has come for Sonia Gandhi to resign from the party leadership and take sannyas, taking along her son and heir apparent with her.

Why did the Bha-ratiya Janata Party succeed in Karnataka State elections? Why? For one thing, the BJP was seen as a party that was wronged by the despicable and unprincipled JD(S) of Deve Gowda. He has been made to pay for his greed, unscrupulousness and arrogance. The Congress has wisely declined his support to form a coalition government. The snub that it delivered to Gowda is well-deserved. Had it agreed to accept Deve Gowda?s hand, it would have been wiped out of Karnataka at the forthcoming general elections. The JD(S) which won 58 seats in 2004 barely made it this time with 28. In 2004, Independents won 22 seats. But Deve Gowda?s treachery must have made people think that this time they are honour-bound to support the BJP to regain their self-respect and honour. Independents, in the circumstances, had to make way for the BJP. The latter, on its part fought hard and fast.

The state was swamped by leaders of the status of L.K. Advani, Narendra Modi and, to a lesser extent, by Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.

But, as Jaitley was to admit, he made no difference. What mattered was the excellent service rendered by party workers at the grassroots level. This is where the BJP specially excelled. Yes, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi made their pretentious appearances. The results have shown that both are totally irrelevant. After losing Karnataka, it is clear that the time has come for Sonia Gandhi to resign from the party leadership and take sannyas, taking along her son and heir apparent with her.

In the context of a series of Congress failures in eleven states, the previous one being Gujarat, the time has come for Congress to revamp itself and look for leadership beyond the dynasty. The nation wants grass-roots leaders like Yeddyurappa, with no pretensions to sophistication. Several reasons are given for the failure of the Congress?though, in the aggregate, it won more votes than the BJP?in what was once a Congress bastion, south of the Vindhyas. When a party loses?actually Congress has won 80 seats this time, fifteen more than in 2004?the temptation is to attribute all sorts of reason, fictional or otherwise, for the failure.

In the case of the Congress, the failure has been attributed to price rise, botched-up ticket distribution, poorly-orchestrated electioneering and far too much dependence on the High Command. Veerappa Moily, the Congress face in several TV interviews, kept saying that no decision can be taken without specific instructions from the High Command. This was in the early stages of the vote-counting when prospects of the BJP getting a majority seemed dicey and many were counting on the possibility of the Congress teaming up with the JD(S).

The tragedy is that there is no High Command. The High Command, today, unlike in pre-Independence (for a time even in immediate post-Independence) days, consists of only one person: Sonia Gandhi. Earlier, it was Indira Gandhi. It is time the High Command is dismantled for the good of the Congress which, to do better in the future, must have a grass-roots leadership at the top and simultaneously throw dynasticism into the dustbin. In successive state elections BJP has won with predictable majorities. That trend is likely to continue in the general elections as well. Thanks to the Congress losing in Karnataka, the UPA government may not now wish to hold general elections in November 2008 as some believed, but only in May 2009. But that, again, is a guess. If prices are not stabilised by November, it would be obviously unwise to hold elections then.

Many people believe that if Kannadigas voted for the BJP, it was because they did not want another period of uncertainty and yet another bout of President?s rule. A good argument, but not necessarily sustainable. People do want internal security, but then why didn?t they vote overwhelmingly either for the Congress or the BJP? The fact remains that caste loyalty is still a major factor in Karnataka. In Phase III of the elections involved were eight districts with a strong Lingayat presence. The BJP applied two strategies: one, to induct second level Lingayat leaders from other parties as its candidates; the other, to project a Lingayat, Yeddyurappa, as Chief Minister. As a result whereas the BJP had won 31 seats in 2004, this time in Phase III, it won 43 or almost twice as many as the Congress which won only 22 seats. It is a misreading of the poll results to say that the state was hungering for security. We should not delude ourselves.

In Karnataka, caste counts. One reason for Congress failure, it is claimed, is intra-party struggle. It could be. Several of its old stalwarts, including Dharma Singh, R.V. Deshpande, M.P. Prakash, H.K. Patil and Ambareesh, lost. M.S. Krishna was never named clearly as the party candidate for Chief Ministership. He was always on the margin. The BJP had no such hesitation. Right from the start, Yeddyurappa was its clear candidate. But when all is said and done, one must ask the more relevant question: How come that the BJP has grown steadily since 1985 when it had won only two seats? Over the years, it has grown consistently winning four seats on 1989, forty seats in 1994, forty four in 1999, seventy nine in 2004, topping past successes with 110 in 2008? Surely, it cannot all be a matter of caste? Caste percentages in the population have not changed, but an increased pride in Hinduism, in sanaatana dharma, irrespective of castes, has been noticeably, even if subtly, growing.

The bogus secularism of Congress which downgrades Hinduism in peoples? eyes has become a burden to the party. And who on earth would believe Deve Gowda when he says that his party is ?secular?? It is the most casteist party one has seen in Karnataka. The JD(S) is a joke, and a pathetic joke at that. People are slowly but positively realising their greatness as a civilisation and the BJP?s open pride and assertiveness, is taking over the hearts and minds of the people. The more they watch the amazing successes of our scientists in the field of missilery, for instance, the more proud they become of our Hindu heritage. The false ideology of secularism imposed on the people no longer washes. After sixty years of Independence. India is willing to assert its glorious past which the Congress has been deliberately downgrading. The BJP?s identity with India?s glorious past is paying slow but steady dividends. Years of struggle have not been in vain. To interpret the British poet?s Arthur Hugh Clough?s poem: Say Not the Struggle Not Availeth in a different and new context, the BJP?s ?labour and wounds have not been in vain.? Power is pouring into its stream silently ?far back through creeks and inlets?. Karnataka has showed it in ample measure.

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