Five reasons why Karnataka election results 2018 are important for Lok Sabha elections 2019
Modi-Shah’s southern test to Congress’s prestige battle,Kanataka election results are seen to have many implications.Updated: May 15, 2018 10:21 IST
If Siddaramaiah manages to win back Karnataka for the Congress, he will create history of sorts. No party has been re-elected in the state since 1985. Such has been the state of political volatility in the state in the recent past that Siddaramaiah is first chief minister to last a full term after 2004. To be sure, the impact of Karnataka results will be felt beyond the state as well. Here are five reasons why Karnataka results are important for national politics.
1) Modi-Shah’s big southern test
If the BJP wins Karnataka, it will be its first big victory in a major southern state under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. The party could not improve its performance significantly in the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which were held in 2016. With the Telugu Desam Party withdrawing from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the BJP has lost an important ally in the south. Disagreements over issues such as the imposition of Hindi, terms of reference of fifteenth finance commission etc. have been creating difficulties for the BJP in these states. Siddaramaiah too has tried to counter BJP’s Hindutva push with a Kannada-nationalism push of his own. A victory for the BJP would suggest that it is capable of surmounting all these challenges and will advance further as a pan-India party. A failure on the other hand could underline the constraints of the BJP’s current political strategy.
2) Congress’ claim as main opposition party at stake
Till now, the Congress is the only party in Karnataka which enjoys a state-wide support. It takes on the JD(S) in southern parts of the state and the BJP in other regions. This means that the Congress’s support is spread rather thin in the state and it has to get many more votes to convert them into seats. Except in the 2013 elections, the BJP has always had a better seat share to vote share ratio than the Congress in the state. The most significant factor in 2013 was the exit of BS Yedyurappa from the BJP, splitting the vote. He is now back in the party.
If the Congress is not able to form a government on its own in Karnataka and the JD(S) gets to play a major role after the results, it could make the Congress more vulnerable to tough bargaining by other regional players in the run-up to 2019 elections. If the Congress gets a majority on its own, its claim as the most credible party to lead the opposition to the BJP will get a big boost.
3) Impact on Rajya Sabha numbers
A BJP victory in Karnataka can also take it closer towards a majority in the Rajya Sabha. Four Rajya Sabha members from Karnataka will be retiring in June, 2020. Only one of them is from the BJP.
4) The clash of AHINDA vs Hindutva strategies
A Congress victory in Karnataka will be a strong vindication of Siddaramaiah’s political strategy which is trying an AHINDA (a Kannada acronym for minorities, dalits and backward classes) consolidation through state government welfare schemes. The strategy makes sense because socially backwards groups are more likely to be economically backward. A pre-poll survey conducted by CSDS-Lokniti shows that a large number of respondents have admitted to benefitting from various welfare schemes of the state government. By doing this, the Congress is hoping to reduce the importance of two dominant caste groups: Lingayats and Vokkaligas, which are known to be the main support base of the BJP and JD(S). The BJP on the other hand has banked on the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a consolidation of Hindu votes across the board. Today’s Chanakya’s exit poll analysis, which has given the maximum number of seats to the BJP, shows that it is ahead of the Congress among all Hindus except Kurubas, which is Siddaramaiah’s own caste group. Should this happen, it would reiterate the prowess of BJP’s Hindutva push and Brand Modi.
5) Karnataka is a big source of funds for INC
Last but not the least, is the impact Karnataka results could have on the Congress’ finances. A loss in Karnataka could have an extremely adverse impact on the Congress party’s ability to raise funds, as it would not have an elected government in any major state in India except Punjab. Given the fact that the BJP is already way ahead of the Congress in terms of income and expenditure, this will only add to the disadvantage the Congress would face in matching the BJP’s efforts in the 2019 elections.
First Published: May 14, 2018 23:06 IST