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Last Updated : Dec 09, 2019 05:44 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Politics | A golden opportunity for the BJP in Karnataka

The vote for the BJP this time around rested on the hope that it would not betray the faith of the people as the HD Kumaraswamy government had. Indeed, the BJP would now be under strict watch for its promise of good governance.

Moneycontrol Contributor @moneycontrolcom

Kamlendra Kanwar

True to expectations and to exit poll predictions, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won 12 of the 15 by-election seats necessitated after 17 legislators in the Karnataka assembly were disqualified by the assembly speaker. MLAs of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) were disqualified under the anti-defection law for voting for the BJP defying the party whips. A paltry two seats have gone to the Congress, one to a BJP rebel who contested as an independent, while the JD(S) drew a blank.

Of the 17 seats, election to two were not held as they are in litigation in the Karnataka High Court for electoral malpractices.

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By this verdict the voter has reposed faith in the BJP and snubbed the Congress and the JD(S) which had fought the last assembly elections separately but decided to come together subsequently to deny the BJP power. This may well have some lessons for Maharashtra too where the Shiv Sena came together with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress to form a government.

The Karnataka electorate which expected stability in the state was left to see the Congress and the JD(S) bickering and infighting with little time and effort devoted to constructive governance for the benefit of the people.

The vote for the BJP this time around rested on the hope that it would not betray the faith of the people as the HD Kumaraswamy government had. Indeed, the BJP would now be under strict watch for its promise of good governance.

The by-elections were seen as a kind of referendum on the 15 seats, none of which was held by the BJP earlier.

When the 17 legislators were disqualified, the BJP had managed to form a government because the threshold for majority in the house fell from the sanctioned strength of 224. Now, with the BJP winning 12 of the 15 seats contested, the BJP has 118 legislators and this gives it a comfortable majority.

While the Congress too has suffered a humiliating defeat, the worse sufferer is the JD(S) which has been routed in the 15 seats and could face a huge challenge of credibility in coming days. A split in the beleaguered party is a distinct possibility in the circumstances with a section possibly going with the BJP.

For Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa who fought the elections for the 15 seats announcing to the voters that this is the last election that he was facing as chief minister since he would be beyond the threshold limit of 75 years set by the BJP high command for fighting elections, this is a particularly heartening win.

The Congress would indeed need to do some soul-searching. It would require herculean efforts to gain acceptability with the electorate again and to erase the impression that it is a party in which personal egos and consequent factionalism negate all the gains it makes.

It was the clash of egos between former chief minister Siddaramaiah and JD(S) kingpin HD Kumaraswamy that primarily wrecked the coalition and forced the people to opt for the BJP.

It is for the BJP to realise that this is a golden opportunity to establish a place in the hearts of the people of Karnataka. If corruption continues without hindrance and maladministration is not corrected, there can be little doubt that the government would have to pay a price.

The pathetic state of Bengaluru, where infrastructure has virtually collapsed, will be watched closely. The BJP can ill-afford to draw solace from the catastrophic failure of the Kumaraswamy government. It will need to show results on the ground and to combat vested interests, which are responsible for things having come to such a pass.

Kamlendra Kanwar is a senior journalist. Views expressed are personal.

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First Published on Dec 9, 2019 05:44 pm
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