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Last Updated : Dec 09, 2019 05:57 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Politics | Why the bypoll victory in Karnataka was crucial for BJP

The Karnataka bypoll results are likely to embolden the BJP about its chances in trying to form the government in Maharashtra. Just like the Congress-JD(S) alliance fell apart in Karnataka, the BJP would now fancy its chances of detecting and exploiting the chinks in the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena coalition government.

The results to the recently-held Karnataka assembly bypolls come at a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is on the back foot. Since the mid-year high of winning the general elections, it has been a bumpy ride for the BJP: the markets reacted negatively to the budget presented shortly after it came back to power; the NRC in Assam has not really gone the expected way; the results of the assembly elections to Maharashtra and Haryana have been shockers with the national party winning the battle but losing the war. Meanwhile, the abrogation of Article 370, the largely peaceful resolution of the Ayodhya temple dispute, etc. are some of the high points.

The success in Karnataka — which means that the BS Yediyurappa government will have absolute majority and  have an uninterrupted run for the remaining part of its term — is important in many ways. Uninterrupted power would mean that the BJP will get to groom the next rung of state leaders, who can take over the mantle from Yediyurappa, who is 76 now. The bypoll loss will further disillusion the leaders of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular). Former Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah has already offered his resignation as leader of Opposition in the house.

The Karnataka bypoll results are likely to embolden the BJP about its chances in trying to form the government in Maharashtra. Just like the Congress-JD(S) alliance fell apart in Karnataka, the BJP would now fancy its chances of detecting and exploiting the chinks in the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena coalition government.

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Now, with its position consolidated in Karnataka, the BJP will look to extend its footprint in South India, especially its influence in northern Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. If one were to look at the political map of India, and if the BJP had lost the bypolls in Karnataka, Gujarat would have been the southern-most tip in which the party was running a state government — this of course is excluding Goa with its fickle nature of political alliances and loyalties. For a national party that has resoundingly won the general elections, the BJP’s federal footprint is shrinking and does not reflect its national stature. From a high point in early 2018 where it was in power in 21 states and the Centre, today it has lost many crucial states. Above that, its goal of a Congress-mukt India has failed.

Though it is common for the ruling party to win a bypoll, the Yediyurappa-led BJP deserves all the praise that is coming its way. After all, the BJP stuck its neck out and a defeat here would have been devastating. After the Karnataka Assembly Speaker dismissed the 17 MLAs who had defected from the Congress and JD(S), and the Supreme Court upheld the dismissal but allowed them to contest the bypolls, Yediyurappa took a big political gamble by fielding the rebel MLAs.

Every month of the year is important for a political party such as the BJP, which is perpetually on ‘active mode’. In the five-plus years of the Narendra Modi government there aren’t many (or any) instances where the government or the party leadership has put its feet up. Despite this, December 2019 is an important month for the party. Though the month started with the BJP being relegated to the Opposition benches in the Maharashtra assembly, the bypoll results in Karnataka bring good news. The bigger test will be the results of the ongoing assembly polls in Jharkhand — and it will be this that will determine whether or not BJP President Amit Shah hands over the baton to JP Nadda on a winning note.

The winning momentum will further help the BJP in the Delhi assembly polls which are likely to take place in the first few months of 2020, followed by polls in Bihar later that year.

For more Opinion pieces, click here. 

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First Published on Dec 9, 2019 05:11 pm
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