Saturday, 7 June, 2008

Will Karnataka bring BJP nearer to Delhi?

WITH KARNATAKA in its kitty, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is quick in seizing the initiative and proclaiming that this victory is nothing but a referendum on the performance of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
The party believes that this win, clearly signals that the people of India wants a change and they will embrace the Saffron Party during the next general elections.
But, is the victory in Karnataka, really a turning point in the run-up to the next general elections or is it another state election, which Congress should have won but it lost due to weak local organisation, factionalism and inability to offer a strong leader?
It is to be noted that the numbers of seats as well as vote share of the Congress has increased in this elections despite its drubbing at the hustings. To win this elections what the BJP did smartly, was to present itself as a wronged party, done in by Gowdas of JD(S). It presented a unified leadership before the people, symbolised by BS Yediyurappa, a Lingayat by caste, which itself was an astute move to make.
The distribution of tickets to the candidates was also done intelligibly with the BJP, giving tickets to Lingayats, Vokkaligas, SC and ST candidates. Winning ability of the prospective ticket seeker was given a great weightage while allotting the ticket.
All these and several more factors combined to give Karnataka the BJP. Lal Krishna Advani and Sushma Swaraj were quick in proclaiming that this indeed, is the case and if they have Karnataka, Delhi is not far.”
No doubt, BJP has been winning state after state in elections, but is it possible that these victories could mean that India has already decided to give the mandate to the Saffron Party? In the run-up to to the crucial general elections, it is important that party chief, Rajnath Singh and his team realise that the state elections and national elections are two different ball games.
To win the general elections on its own, the party will either have to rework the magic of its Hindutva brand of politics or look for ways to bring in the Muslims into the party fold. BJP has its strengths in term of strong organisation at grassroots, enough money power and a good team of leaders, who can think and execute the strategy.
But, the party is also handicapped by the fact that a large section of the Indian population does not have faith in it. Muslims constitute a huge electorate in the country and they influence the result of a large number of Loksabha seats but the party has failed to imbue trust in them.
In addition, a recent survey by a leading media house reports that the country is satisfied with the performance of the UPA government. It thus, appears a paradox that while Congress is losing elections, still its performance at the Centre is being appreciated by people.
Congress has been able to provide a stable government, while offering great populist measures including farm-loans waiver, reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBC) in higher education, proposing to stand as guarantor for education loans and so on.
If BJP concludes that victory in Karnataka means Delhi has been captured, it has caught the wrong end of the stick. It could be a re-run of the ’India Shining’ campaign, which was launched prior to last general elections and resulted in the Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) getting defeated.

Meri News, May 26, 2008

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