The Karnataka win is a boost for the BJP | HT Editorial
It offered stability, while the Opposition was internally torn and weakUpdated: Dec 09, 2019 21:10 IST
By winning 12 of the 15 assembly seats in the bypolls in Karnataka, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has achieved two major objectives. It has safeguarded its government in the state, led by veteran regional leader BS Yediyurappa, who was fighting this battle almost on his own. It has also managed to challenge the narrative of political drift and defeat, which had begun growing after the setback in Maharashtra where it failed to form the government, and the less-than-expected performance in Haryana. At the same time, the outcome is a stark reminder to the Opposition about how much it needs to work to engineer any revival.
Karnataka, after the 2018 assembly polls, has seen political instability. Mr Yediyurappa formed the government but resigned when he could not prove his majority. The Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress came together to form the government, under HD Kumaraswamy, but the alliance was rocked by internal factionalism and provided poor governance. Within a year, the BJP was back in the act, as it wooed the legislators of the ruling parties. But while its return was constitutionally legitimate, the government lacked complete political legitimacy. The bypoll win gives the party, especially the chief minister, a boost. Voters clearly wanted stability. It is also a ringing endorsement of the defectors, who switched parties, but managed to retain their base, in a sign that personalities continue to matter in politics.
The verdict also has a lesson for the Opposition. An opportunistic alliance, formed only to keep the BJP out, could not last. The JD(S) will be particularly worried about its loss even in its Vokkaliga stronghold. And the Congress, completely wrecked by internal rifts, has an acute crisis. The two parties now appear set to spend the next three years out of power. Whether they are able to reinvent will have to be seen.