Karnataka elections result: 5 crucial factors that hurt the BJP, helped Cong script win

May 13, 2023 03:19 PM IST

Karnataka elections: Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said the BJP will do a detailed analysis once the complete results come

BENGALURU: Incumbent chief minister Basavaraj Bommai conceded defeat four hours into the counting of votes as the Congress dealt a humiliating defeat to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka on Saturday, a change state Congress president DK Shivakumar said he “delivered as promised to the (Congress) high command”.

Karnataka election result: Supporters of Congress candidate UT Kader celebrate their leader's lead in the Karnataka Assembly polls, on the vote counting day on Saturday (PTI)
Karnataka election result: Supporters of Congress candidate UT Kader celebrate their leader's lead in the Karnataka Assembly polls, on the vote counting day on Saturday (PTI)

FULL COVERAGE | Karnataka Assembly election

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Bommai, who was also the BJP’s presumptive chief minister, declined to comment on a barrage of questions on the party’s performance. “We will do a detailed analysis once the complete results come. As a national party, we will not only analyse, but also see the deficiencies and gaps at various levels. We take this result in our stride and will come back stronger in the (2024) Lok Sabha elections,” the 63-year-old veteran politician said.

Here are five reasons that contributed to the BJP’s defeat.

The narrative: Corruption

The Congress’s spirited campaign against the BJP that focused on corruption appeared to have had some traction with the voters. The Congress had been running ‘PayCM’ and ‘40% Sarkara’ (referring to the contractors’ association president D Kempanna’s charge that the BJP government took a 40% cut in projects) campaigns since late 2022 after the suicide of a contractor in April last year. The Lokayukta investigation which led to the arrest of BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa and his son in a bribery case served to reinforce the Congress campaign and hurt the BJP’s image on the corruption plank.

The history: Anti-incumbency

To be sure, the BJP did start with a disadvantage. The BJP has been in power since 2019 after an unlikely coalition government formed by the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular under HD Kumaraswamy collapsed after a bunch of lawmakers resigned. And Karnataka has never voted the incumbent party to power since 1985. The BJP did try to break the jinx with a blitzkrieg by Prime Minister Modi to shore up its prospects and fight “anti-incumbency”.

Issues: Reservation and polarisation

The Basavaraj Bommai-led government’s move to scrap the 4% reservation for Muslims in the 2B category of the Other Backward Castes (OBC) in government employment and education, and distribute it equally among the two dominant communities, Vokkaliga and Lingayat castes, was another campaign point for the opposition. The state government’s last-minute decision on internal reservation among the Scheduled Castes community also drew ire from a section of the community. In contrast, the Congress pledged to work for marginalised caste groups and raise the quantum of reservations to 75%, restore minority reservations and increase reservations for Lingayats,

And prices

The rise in costs of essential commodities such as fuel and cooking gas, and unemployement became a focal point for the opposition Congress and JD(S) to mobilise support amongst the poor and middle class.

The opposition campaign did lead the BJP to try to neutralise its impact among voters by promising three free cooking gas cylinders to BPL families every year, setting up Atal Aahara Kendras to provide subsided food, and half a litre of free Nandini milk to BPL families every day and 5 kg rice through monthly ration kits

Exit of the veterans

The BJP’s attempt to effect a generational change by denying tickets to a raft of old-guard leaders including former chief minister Jagdish Shettar and former deputy chief minister Laxman Savadi gave the Congress an opportunity to project the BJP as an anti-Lingayat party. Shettar, who was fielded by the Congress from Hubli-Dharwad-Central-73 is losing the seat to the BJP by a huge margin but Savadi, also fielded by the Congress, looks set to retain the seat.

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