The elections to the State Assembly in Karnataka have brought the sharpest comments as much as on the BJP as on the Congress. Editorial after editorial has made it clear that it is not a victory for the Congress as much as it is a defeat of the BJP. The Hindu (May 9), for example, said the Congress victory “was clearly a mandate against the Bharatiya Janata Party” and, for this very reason “the Congress might have more lessons to learn from its victory than the BJP from its defeat.”
If the Karnataka Assembly election is a pointer to the national mood, said the paper “it is a verdict against corruption and non-governance, not as an endorsement of the Congress”. Indeed it said “the fact that the Janata Dal (Secular) got as many seats as the BJP is an indication that the vote was primarily anti-incumbent and pro-change and not necessarily pro-Congress.”
Analysing the BJP in power, the paper warned the Congress that “the victory in Karnataka will be difficult to replicate not only in other states but also in the 2014 parliamentary elections.” The Times of India (May 9 ) drew attention to “the corruption and partisan misgovernance” in Karnataka which cost the BJP heavily and the next day (May 10) went on to make the point that “if in Karnataka voters have given an elegant boot to corruption and political instability”, continuing with “this sophisticated trajectory they may well turn their wrath against Congress in 2014.” After all, said the paper, “they have a history of voting differently in national and state elections”.
The Reddy Brothers’ tainted the BJP to defeat, but the Congress victory from Bellary City constituency hardly boasts lily-white credentials.” Business Line (May 9) said, “by giving the Congress a clear majority… and throwing the ruling BJP out in the process “the people of Karnataka have now delivered a verdict for a stable government that can focus its attention primarily on governance… but it is a verdict specific to the state.
The Congress should by no means interpret it as an endorsement of its government’s performance at the Centre.” Also, said the paper, “the fact that the BJP was resoundingly voted back to power in Gujarat only a few months back but has had to eat humble pie in Karnataka only shows how much the Indian voter has evolved.” The New Indian Express (May 9 ) warned the Congress that it “would do well to realise that its return to power in the state is by default and not because of endorsement by the people of its scam-ridden ill government at the Centre.”
Hindustan Times (May 9) said the Karnataka Assembly poll verdict “is a case of choosing the bad over the worse”, with the voters really having very little choice. Stating that “the BJP has no one but itself to blame for the loss of its only southern state,” the paper noted that “with this defeat the BJP will have to start from scratch in the south.” Karnataka, it said “was the gateway through which it has hoped to lay siege to south India, but now that gate is firmly shut for the moment.”
DNA (May 9) said the elections have made the BJP “bite the dust”. “Blatant corruption, misgovernance, wanton caste-ism, outright communalism and sex scams are the only memories of the five-year rule” of the BJP, the paper said. Pointing out that the moment the party took power, “the BJP began squandering its mandate like a spendthrift legatee”, its lament that it paid the price for junking the tainted B.S. Yeddyurappa “insults the electorate”. The BJP, said the paper “lost because it was seen to be corrupt.” “The Congress” said the paper, “should not suffer from the delusion that its victory was hard-earned”.
The Asian Age (May 9) said “it is evident voters gave Congress an unambiguous majority because the BJP gave them five years of sustained non-governance, due to bruising faction-fighting and systemic corruption of astonishing magnitude that didn’t leave the CM untouched.” It added: “Seeing what’s happened to the BJP, the Congress must feel the pressure of public expectations. This primarily means cutting out factionalism and skipping corruption as a game that politicians play as neatly.”