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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Karnataka election results: Tough road ahead for Congress

After the Karnataka elections results 2018, Congress sprung a surprise with a post-poll alliance with the JD(S). But it faces a surging BJP in the four states that go to the polls later this year.

india Updated: May 15, 2018 22:46 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Outgoing Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, JD(S) President H D Kumaraswamy with other leaders leave after meeting with Karnataka governor in Bengaluru.
Outgoing Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, JD(S) President H D Kumaraswamy with other leaders leave after meeting with Karnataka governor in Bengaluru. (PTI Photo)
         

Ousted from power in Karnataka, the Congress may have sprung a surprise with a post-poll alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) that could form the next government, but it has once again failed to stem its electoral slide after the massive defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Having lost one more important state, the grand old party has a tough road ahead. It faces a surging Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the four states that go to the polls later this year -- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram.

Of these four states, which are considered to be the precursors to the grand finale in 2019, the BJP has been in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh since 2003. The Congress leadership is aware that the party’s comeback at the national level largely depends on its revival in the state elections.

After taking over as the Congress president last December, Rahul Gandhi has laid much emphasis on decentralisation of power and stressed the need to allow the regional leaders to grow.

He has often promised to transform the party but those assurances have not stopped the spread of the saffron cover across India’s political map.

As of now, the BJP is in power on its own or in coalition in 20 states.

Apart from its failure to reconnect with the masses, the Congress has also suffered a series of electoral setbacks due to its weak organisational structure at the grassroots level.

Booth-level micro management is considered key to winning the elections and the cadre-based BJP has effectively used the voter-mobilisation strategy to its advantage in the recent years.

Political analysts say the Congress needs to learn from its defeats and accordingly revise its strategy to defeat the BJP’s powerful election machinery.

“The Karnataka results are disappointing for the Congress. Its prospects in upcoming elections don’t seem to be bright. Congress does not learn from its defeats and continues to commit same mistakes,” said Delhi-based political analyst N Bhaskara Rao.

“Today’s political scenario requires faster reaction and a much more accommodative nature in the run-up to elections. They need to drastically change their strategy. Unless they do it, I don’t see any dramatic change in the upcoming elections,” he added.

The Karnataka results have also strengthened the perception that the Congress on its own cannot take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, and that it needs to go in for alliances with regional parties.

In Karnataka, the Congress has tried to salvage pride with the JD(S) alliance. It can also take some comfort in getting the highest vote share of 38% as compared to the BJP’s 36.2%, according to initial calculations.

At least it has managed to send a message to potential allies ahead of the 2019 elections that it is willing to forego its own ambitions, and play a supporting role, in a partnership that can wrest power from the BJP.