2014 was a watershed event. A simple majority govt was formed which was historic and happened for the first time since 1984. However, the period following the general election victory has yielded a lot of things. BJP has virtually captured the Hindi heartland barring Punjab and has made a rapid foray into the north east. States like Maharashtra and Gujarat have already become BJP bastions. In this expansionist scheme of things, there is only one part which is now eluding the BJP and that is down south and a couple of states in the east like Bengal or Odisha.
Southern part of India is a mixed bag for the BJP. It is in coalition with the TDP in Andhra, has a low presence in Tamil Nadu (even though AIADMK is on the verge to join the NDA), is increasingly becoming prominent in Kerala and lastly comes the state of Karnataka.
Karnataka has been what Assam is to the BJP in the north east. It formed its first govt down south here and popularity of Yeddyurappa was on par with any popular BJP CM like Shivraj Singh Chauhan. However, alleged corruption charges on Yeddyurappa and his subsequent replacement gifted the state back to the Congress in the subsequent elections.
A lot of time has flown as Yeddyurappa who quit the BJP to form his own outfit is now back into the BJP fold and elections for the state of Karnataka now are in the horizon. Amit Shah who has been responsible for a rapid BJP expansion everywhere would love to see that BJP makes a foray down south again. And why not by capturing the state of Karnataka to put it back into the BJP kitty.
There are four reasons as to why Amit Shah may be successful in establishing a BJP govt in Karnataka.
Firstly, there is a tremendous anti-incumbency against the ruling Congress CM Siddaramaiah. This is coupled with scams at regular intervals. The steel flyover project in Bengaluru and its handling symbolised the lacunae not only in governance but also highlighted rampant corruption in the only major state Congress is in power. After an IT raid on K Govindraj, a diary mentioning Congress top high command leadership was exposed. ‘SG’ and ‘RG’ were the abbreviations mentioned in the diary which clearly indicated the needful. The project already had a lot of resistance from the activists and after the media made a spectacle of the diary gate, the project was unceremoniously dropped. This has severely damaged and dented the image of the Congress govt followed by what is portrayed as an arrogant face of the Congress party state leadership. Amit Shah on his three day visit to the state has also accused ministers of the state govt with indulgence in rampant corruption.
Directly targeting State government, Amit Shah accused the CM of hiding the facts of Government of India’s fund and grants flow to the State. Under UPA rule, Karnataka had secured ₹61,691 crores from the erstwhile Central govt, but under the 14th Finance Commission, Modi govt gave ₹186, 975 crores to the State, Amit Shah clarified.
“Karnataka had got additional ₹125,284 crores as various grants that has not been utilised properly. Where has the money gone?” he asked.
Secondly, poor governance woes have extended to other aspects where the CM has introduced Bhagya schemes (like Krishi Bhagya, Anna Bhagya and so on) to salvage the damages. Even freebies were offered and the drive to demand a separate flag for the state seems to be the diversionary tactics to take the attention away from low key governance. All these schemes were also a smokescreen to divert attention from political killings that have been witnessed in the state. More than twenty political murders have happened questioning the law and order situation. Somewhere the state is replicating the same killing fields as seen in the state of Kerala at the grass root levels.
The state was in the news for all the wrong reasons such as the camping of Congress party MLAs. Legislators from Gujarat were stationed at a resort in Bengaluru. Raids on the leader funding the trip exposed a lot of money involved in the same. Ahmed Patel fiasco and extensive coverage had its roots in Bengaluru and Karnataka. Even though Patel won ultimately by a very narrow margin, the task of keeping its flock together demonstrated the erosion in the strength of the party and Karnataka was the testimony to it.
Thirdly, in previous edition of assembly elections, BJP literally gifted the state to the Congress. As a matter of fact when Yeddyurappa was accused of corruption, he had to resign and eventually quit the party. He formed his own outfit which somewhere dented BJPs chances. Amit Shah has firmly retorted that elections will be fought under his leadership. Yeddyurappa, as undoubtedly is a very popular leader. He belongs to the Lingayat community and it is expected they will back the BJP strongly in assembly polls. Yeddyurappa enjoys a strong support in the state and clearly making him the leader is a big shot in the arm for BJP to come back to power in Karnataka.
Fourthly, across the country, a lot of Congress leaders have switched over to the BJP. This phenomenon was seen in UP and now even in Gujarat where Shankersinh Vaghela changed sides which dealt a major blow to the proceedings in Rajya Sabha re nomination of Ahmed Patel. In Karnataka, SM Krishna who felt marginalised left the party to join the BJP. This will affect the Congress for two reasons. He belongs to the powerful Vokkaliga community and so this may help the BJP garner their votes. Secondly, the transformation of Bengaluru and Karnataka as a hub for IT and otherwise can be attributed to SM Krishna and his tenure. His joining the BJP will certainly aid in capturing more seats or votes and help them reach the magical majority figure.
Lastly, CM Siddaramaiah unfortunately is lack lustre and fails to inject inspiration into the Congress cadre to come back to power again. He lacks that killer instinct which is harboured by somebody as Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh. Siddaramaiah is known as the Rahul Gandhi of Karnataka for his know-how and it is further garnished by arrogance and lust for power.
After BJP uses all its power, electoral strategies and the appeal of PM Modi, Siddaramaiah won’t have any option, but to lose Karnataka Gracefully. Which he is not doing currently by fanning anti-Hindi sentiments in the state and pitching for a new religions for the Lingayats.
Winning Karnataka will propel the BJP in its ambitious plan to capture down South. The way BJP gifted the state to the Congress; it seems the ghar wapasi is on the cards. Corruption, infighting, exiting leaders and Yeddyurappa will be spelling the doom. In case the Congress loses the state, the ramifications to it as a national party will be plenty. With even Himachal scheduled to go for polls in 2018, Congress party is on the verge of getting marginalised to one state of Punjab. A Congress free India will become a subtle reality and the Gandhi family really needs to self-introspect or else prepare to further perish.