The BJP'shistoric win in Karnataka has exploded many myths. From the start, when the election schedule was announced, the party'schief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa was confident. His five decades of grass roots experience convinced him that this election will rewrite the political history of the country. So from the beginning he resisted all suggestions of seat adjustments with other NDA partners. His plank was stability and good governance. He had the immediate experience of a melancholic betrayal by the Janata Dal(S) and he was sure that the Kannadigas did not tolerate corrupt self-seekers and political turncoats.
The BJP is the only party whose vote share has gone up by a whopping seven per cent. The pro-BJP swing itself is a record political tornado. The party single handedly reached near majority in a state where political pundits say there are over 15 per cent minority votes. But people who know Karnataka say that Yeddyurappa has a pan-Karnataka image and he got a good share of Muslim and Christian votes. It shows his universal appeal. The BJP got a lead almost in all regions of the state. This gives hope for the party'sonward march into Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and even Tamil Nadu.
While Yeddyurappa is the undisputed victor of this battle there are many significant political messages in this victory. This is the first election the BJP fought after it declared L.K. Advani its prime ministerial candidate. The victory is a resounding approval of the people for Advani'sprime ministership. He had extensively campaigned in the state. His speeches were centred on the UPA misrule, inflation and national security. Other prominent campaigners included Sushma Swaraj, Narendra Modi, Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar. These leaders made vital contribution to this victory. For many years, these leaders have been working in the state on various political missions. The organisational skill and master campaign strategy of Arun Jaitley was again put to test here. He like on many other earlier occasions proved to be a politician with the Midas touch. It is also a crowning glory for the party chief Rajnath Singh. He has again been lucky for the party. This is the fifth state the party has gained under him.
What is the political message? For the first time the BJP has in real terms emerged as a pan-India political movement. It has replaced Congress as the main party of India. Karnataka is one of the states where almost the entire BJP is essentially drawn from the RSS. The Sangh has one of its most vibrant and intellectually pro-active units in the state. A number of its top leaders have come from the state. This also played a major role in the BJP win. In fact this win is no fluke. It is the result of years of dedicated hard work. And that makes it clear that the BJP is here to stay.
The poll proved to be a leveller. See the big reputations that fell by the wayside. People punished habitual defectors. The Bangarappa family was finally trounced. So was the Congress ex-chief minister Dharam Singh and ex-deputy chief minister Prakash. Every per cent of the vote Deve Gowda'sparty lost seems to have gone to the BJP. People took their revenge on the opportunistic blackmailing politics of the Gowda family. Their seat share was reduced by more than half.
Though the BJP win did not come as a stunning surprise to BJP workers in the state, it raised many exclamations, angst, trepidations and organised theorising in the anti-BJP camp.
One analyst went to the extent of suggesting that the Karnataka BJP is different from the national party. ?It is a regional formation. Now, will the BJP follow the Karnataka model or the Gujarat model?? ?Will the Karnataka BJP give an assurance to Muslims?? Asked another commentator. ?But in Karnataka, the BJP sided with one caste,? suggested a Congress leader. All the while they were claiming victory for the so-called secular parties and even attempted to cobble up a majority with discredited JD(S). Now they say the division of secular vote paved the way for BJP. Who prevented them from coming together? Does that mean that all those who voted for the BJP are communal? The self-appointed guardians of secularism?the CPM?drew a blank in the state. It could not retain the solitary seat it had won in the last election. Karnataka signalled a mandate for the positive BJP agenda and a rejection of the divisive sectarianism and misrule at the centre.