Decoding Karnataka: Some key takeaways

The election result has again shown that people cannot be crushed beyond a point: Rise they will and once they do, parties which presume they are deeply entrenched, may scramble for space.

have told Modi, “causing me a real problem. Next month, we have a dinner for you in Washington. Everyone in the whole country wants to come. I have run out of tickets. You think I am kidding…You are too popular,” sources quoted President Biden telling Modi.

The icing on the cake, however, was Biden asking Modi for an autograph: “I should take your autograph”, he reportedly said light-heartedly.

In June, when Modi is slated to go to the US on an invitation from the US President Biden, a state dinner is scheduled at the White House.

Sharing Biden’s dilemma was none other than the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. During the Quad leaders meeting in Tokyo, Albanese claimed that he, too, had a flood of requests from prominent citizens to attend events where PM Modi would be speaking.

According to sources, PM Albanese has said that he was unable to accommodate all the requests he has received for tickets to the community reception in Sydney.

Modi did win accolades overseas but back home, things were not as hunky dory. Modi’s party, the BJP, got a drubbing in the elections in Karnataka.

Despite a high-voltage campaign wherein Modi was the central figure, the BJP lost the southern state. It was not the win but the tally that held a surprise. The Congress scored a “resounding victory” going well beyond the simple majority of 113 seats it needed to form the government on its own.

This despite the fact that Amit Shah had claimed a full majority in the state: “PurnaBahumat”, absolute majority, to quote Shah.  A kind of an Utopian dream because the Congress swept the polls, leaving the
BJP to run for cover.

Logically, expectedly and understandably Congressmen were jumping with joy. The win was clearly a morale booster for the sagging fortunes of the beleaguered Party.

However, what drew attention was outgoing Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s statement: “In spite of the efforts  of the Prime minister and party workers, we could not make the mark”. The statement is significant because it underlines the failed efforts of Prime Minister Modi who ran a gruelling campaign, addressing several rallies and roadshows.

Or Amit Shah telling the electorate about the Karnataka election being one to “hand over the future of the state to Modiji”.

Add to this, Rahul Gandhi’s message of nafrat and mohabbat, love and hate, a take-off from his much-hyped yatra when he had spoken about “nafrat ke bazaar mein mohabbat ki dukan khol raha hoon”.

Post Karnataka victory, Rahul said that hate had lost to love and this will happen in other states too. In other words, the Congress not only stands to count but can be a strong contender in the forthcoming
elections in the states of Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan among others.

But is the Karnataka-win only about electoral victory or defeat? Is it about brand Modi losing its sheen? Or there being hope for the Congress? Is it about Rahul Gandhi taking on Modi? Or about Modi being

Analysts should perhaps look beyond the narrow prism and see the victory or defeat in the context of India, the country, rather than a political party being in or out of power.; or whether a leader has climbed or tripped.

Against this backdrop, the Karnataka election brings hope and a message that the ink on the Modi seal can fade away and the brand is not cast in stone.

More importantly, it reaffirms the faith in the Indian people that if push comes to  shove, the people will use their mind rather than their heart.

Therefore Modi may be loved, endeared and even revered but in the event of their interests being jeopardized, the electorate would look for other options like it has in Karnataka recently and Himachal
Pradesh some months ago. Therefore, the larger issue is that the 2024 election may not be “done deal” as the saffron Party is propagating it to be. The refrain: we are focussing on 2029 because brand Modi has secured 2024 for the BJP.

In other words it is a cakewalk. The other states may not go the Karnataka way or they may but the
larger issue is that the electorate can neither be taken for granted or trifled with.

For parties, BJP or any other, it may be bad news but for the country nothing could be better: it demonstrates that the Indian people have a spine, can think and will uproot those who fail them either in intent or action.

More importantly, it reiterates that the people cannot be crushed beyond a point: Rise they will and once they do, parties which presume they are deeply entrenched, may scramble for space.

It is too early to write BJP’s political obituary because a state election does not demonstrate the national mood; 2023 is not necessarily the preface for 2024 but it sure is a light at the end of tunnel and a signal that the people of India are not in deep slumber.

They may let go for a long time but once they move they would alter the status quo. So for all those who are sitting smug for 2024 need to sit up and decode the Karnataka script.