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Secular alliance or Congress-mukt K’taka?

Even though the BJP had emerged as the single largest party in Karnataka, the party is falling short of numbers required to form the government. In an attempt to keep the BJP out of power Congress has extended support to Janata Dal (S) for the government formation in the state. BJP’s impressive performance in the Karnataka assembly polls has given a huge boost to the party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Thus, BJP is inching towards its mission of Congress-mukt Bharat. BJP was leading on 104 seats, Congress on 78 and JD(S) on 38. Even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi was criticised for using foul language while campaigning for polls but it didn’t affect his party’s performance. On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi’s positive campaign didn’t help Congress’ cause as the party has lost yet another state election.

When AV spoke to BJP spokesperson Shivray Kulkarni, he said, “Karnataka has rejected the corrupt Siddaramaih government. Before the ending of the counting process, Congress has extended support to JD (S) leader HD Kumaraswamy for the chief ministerial post. Congress party’s pseudo-secular stand is exposed and people have rejected their minority appeasement policy.”

“Dalits and Muslims have supported BJP as the party believes in Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas. People disapprove of Siddaramaih’s hate politics as his government has failed to implement the 112 schemes announced by the Modi government,” he added.

After Congress party’s debacle in Karnataka polls, questions are being raised over Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s ability to lead the party. It is a huge setback for the Gandhi scion who had projected himself as a contender for the prime minister’s post if Congress comes to power after next year’s Lok Sabha polls. Congress will have to pull up its socks and do some introspection to revive itself prior to the next year’s general election.

Congress MLC Anant Gadgil said, “Today people have high expectations from the government and if it fails to deliver then it will be shown the door. BJP is using the government machinery for winning elections. Rahul Gandhi has just taken charge as the Congress president and he will transform the party in future. In 1977, Congress had vanished from the entire country but it came back strongly in 1980. Modi’s magic will not work forever. Whenever Congress lost it has bounced back.”

According to political analysts, Congress party’s strategy of adopting soft- Hindutva ideology to counter BJP too might have worked against the outfit. The party was trying to woo Hindus but had failed to adopt the hardline Hindutva stance of BJP. While campaigning for Karnataka assembly polls Rahul Gandhi had visited several temples in the state. However, people today expect the government to generate employment, control inflation and address the agrarian crisis. The Siddaramaiah led Congress government nonetheless has failed to resolve these issues.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande stated, “BJP had formed the government in Goa and Mizoram even though they were short of the majority. They are adopting the same strategy in Karnataka too but the party has lost several bypoll elections. Image of Rahul Gandhi has changed but he was unable to lead the party well for Karnataka assembly polls. How does BJP manage to win the election when people are unhappy with their performance? Industrialists are supporting them.”

The Congress party’s strategy of granting religion status to Lingayat party has backfired. Lingayats are known as traditional supporters of BJP. Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily criticised the caste management policy of Congress responsible for its failure in Karnataka assembly polls. According to him, Congress should not have raked up the Lingayat issue before the election. Congress state vice-president BK Chandrashekar stated that the party had failed to plan for the Karnataka assembly election and create awareness among people about the government welfare schemes.

NCP leader Vidya Chavan expressed, “Why has the Election Commission failed to take action when BJP leaders were distributing money for winning the election? Industrialists are supporting them. Even though people are unhappy with the policies of BJP government like GST, demonetisation they continue to win elections by manipulating EVMs and distributing money. India won’t become Congress-mukt as the party will work hard to revive itself.”

BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa had played a decisive role in turning the fortunes of BJP in Karnataka. Yeddyurappa was the star campaigner for the BJP along with PM Modi and Amit Shah. He also was responsible for the party’s victory in the 2008 Karnataka assembly polls. After quitting as the chief minister of the state he had formed his own party Karnataka Janata Paksha. In the year 2014, he merged his outfit with BJP and rejoined the saffron party.

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