The Karnataka urban local body elections sprung a surprise even as the Congress turned out to be the single largest party. The Congress came out rejoicing after the results were announced and claimed that this was an affirmation of people’s faith in the Congress-JD(S) alliance. The Congress bagged 982 seats in the state while the BJP won on 929 seats. The JD(S) came a distant third with 325 seats.
On the face of it, this might look as if the BJP has been done in by the Congress and the JD(S) but if one were to look at it closely, the BJP has made significant gains despite an unholy alliance between the Congress and the JD(S). BJP president Amit Shah tweeted that there has been overwhelming support for the BJP and a decline in Congress and JD(S) seats. Therefore, even though the Congress and the JD (S) along with the leftist-liberal cabal are claiming that they have outrightly defeated the BJP, the fact remains that this is only a slim victory when compared to the 2013 polls. BJP has made significant gains in all segments while the JD(S) has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of seats secured by it. While the Congress has lost on some segments and made only negligible gains elsewhere.
BJP makes big gains in the recently held local body elections. Thank you for your support. People of Karnataka give a thumbs down to the unholy Congress and JDS alliance in the state… pic.twitter.com/YjipUvpuoy
— BJP (@BJP4India) September 3, 2018
Congratulations to karyakartas of @BJP4Karnataka and @BSYBJP ji for BJP's stupendous performance in Karnataka local body polls. Overwhelming support for BJP and decline in Congress & JDS seats reflects the dissatisfaction among people of Karnataka against this unholy alliance.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) September 3, 2018
Even though the BJP has made significant gains. One would have expected the BJP to whitewash the Congress and JD(S) given the poor track record of JD (S)-Congress coalition in the state. The current Karnataka government led by JD(S) and the Congress has been embroiled in controversies. Kumaraswamy has been vocal about the problems faced in the alliance in a very abrupt way. He had also openly stated that he will do nothing without Congress approval and that he is in power because of the Congress and not because of the people of Karnataka. This goes on to show that his loyalties lie with the Congress and not the voters of Karnataka. Given such status of a feeble alliance the BJP should have ensured that it made full use of anti-incumbency against it. However, as stated by Yeddyurappa, “The BJP should have won more seats but we could not perform the way we wanted to because of the Congress-JD(S) coalition.” However, this is not an excuse, the BJP should have been upto the mark in its campaign against the unholy alliance.
However, we need not be disheartened. There is still enough time to 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the coalition is only going to lose in terms of popularity, in case it survives till then. If the alliance faces greater anti-incumbency it will directly reflect in a poorer show by the Congress and the JD(S). In case, the “secular” alliance breaks down it will only lead to further division of votes. Moreover, the issues in general elections are totally different when compared to the municipal polls. There the contest will be between prime minister Modi as put against Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. It will be misleading to suggest that voting will take place on similar lines during the general elections as well.
There is only one potent strategy for the BJP and that is to go hard in its attack on the Congress-JD(S) coalition. Instead of looking at the Congress-JD(S) alliance as a hurdle in its way to better performance in the state, the BJP should see it as an opportunity to invoke anti-incumbency and put up a better performance during the 2019 polls.