It’s an election nobody wanted. Already plagued by years of dissension and splits, corruption scandals and bad governance, the ruling BJP didn’t need a mirror to see the abscess on its palm. The Congress, patiently waiting for the BJP to self-destruct, didn’t want any signs of an upswing in its fortunes to be sighted before the assembly elections. For others, like the JD(S), KJP and the BSR Congress, this was an unnecessary exercise before the state elections as their performance would have to match their stated ambitions and the state-wide political base they claimed.
Only the Supreme Court’s insistence led to the holding of the elections. Even the state assembly would have been dissolved by now but for the desire on the part of the MLAs to get funds released from this year’s budget and undertake some more development activities before the end of March. Chief minister Jagadish Shettar too wanted to present his maiden budget and use that opportunity to woo voters with populist programmes.
With only one-fifth of the voters stating their preference, the urban local bodies election may not tell us much. Still the slight advantage the Congress has due to the anti-incumbency factor has become quite apparent. More significantly, Muslims seem to be coalescing around the party, ditching their earlier strategy of tactical voting in support of the strongest secular candidate. The loss suffered by the JD(S) in Ramanagaram is attributed to this. Perhaps this Muslim support could be a result of the assiduous wooing of the minority vote by the UPA government, including the declaration to establish a minority university named after Tipu Sultan in Srirangapattana.
Yet splintering alone cannot account for the BJP’s setback. Urban areas have traditionally been BJP strongholds and its three governments in the past five years have nurtured this constituency by releasing significant funds for urban development. Hence the party’s loss is not a good omen. Note that elections to the Bangalore Corporation weren’t held—here the BJP is decidedly unpopular due to its handling of the garbage crisis and is expected to lose big in the assembly elections. It is also quite likely that the erosion of support for the BJP is significantly greater in rural areas, given its inept handling of the poor monsoon.
The other clear trend is that money alone doesn’t win elections. Witness the bsr Congress’s dismal performance in traditional strongholds Bellary and elsewhere in the iron-ore rich central Karnataka. While I personally witnessed large sums of money being distributed, it hasn’t been a determining factor, as it was in a large number of assembly constituencies in the last two elections. Still, the Congress would have to run an impeccable campaign to drive home its advantage. Many Congress leaders haven’t done well in their home base, which will remain a source of anxiety. For now, if the euphoric Congress leaders have any apprehension, it’s to do with sharing the spoils once they return to office after seven years.
The author is a social historian at the Darideepa Research Institute, Mysore; E-mail your columnist: pdcs AT outlook.com
Losses in the Karnataka local body polls is no indicator of the BJP’s fall (Reading the Cha, Mar 25). In the last one in 2007 too they had come third, but won the assembly polls within months.
Karavadi R. Rao, Vijayawada
The real loser here is not the BJP, but the JD(S), a some-time ally of everyone.
Okay, the BJP camp lies shattered. But there’s a bitter leadership struggle in the Congress and then there’s the JD(S) and Yediyurappa to handle. It’s by no means going to be a Congress show.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
If muslims having thrown their weight behind congress is true, it must sound like music to BJP. Trust me this can only and only help them get the rest rally behind them. Although I do believe BJP dropped the ball in Karnatka. They chopped and changed and kept on putting up with BSY's tantrums for too long. Their infighting and their caste calculations in decision making were pure congress like. Overall governance was not exactly stellar. Rather than look like a party with a difference, they mostly looked like a party with many differences. A rap on the knuckles was in order. They better learn from it.
Karnataka has a great track record of voting at state level a party that sits in opposition in LS..
Karnataka chose CONGRESS to rule the state in 1977, 1989 and 1999..
They chose BJP in 2009, chose JD in 1983/1985, 1994..
And this state always votes differently in State elections and LS elections..
Thus in 1985, the voted for CONgress at national level and chose JD in state elections.
So, those calling for demise of BJP in these urban body polls are simply doing paid journalism without any purpose.
Dont waste time.. the CON party is not going to get a third stint @ Delhi through your low quality journalism. Spend time on better things - like speculating how the Sangh parivar caused World war 2, or how Modi is behind the recent meteor collision in Ural region of Russia (that hurt many thousand russians).
Better luck !!
You hit the nail on head. The CON party supporting mouthpiece aka OUTLOOK made two articles about One south indian state's urban local body polls, did they care to cover any other state local body polls?
BJP has declined, but not to extent of the way media has exagerrated. Yes , congress is beneficiary, but given CONGRESS track record of ruling karnataka for most part of 60 years (till 2007), the party is sure to destroy its mandate double quick.
Let the BJP lose the state polls also and introspect. Heavens wont fall. JDS is in slow decline and nothing will stop that. But the point is BJP in karnataka is here to stay as a big player, something that was not the case even in late 1990s.
Interesting analysis, but misleading. Comparative results of 2007 and 2014 civic polls show that the Congres was numero uno in 2007 also. However, they still got thrashed in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls which followed.
Party 2007 2013
INC 1606 1960
BJP 1180 905
JD(S) 1502 905
BSY ------ 274
Effectively the BJP and its breakaway faction have won the same no of seats as earlier. The real loser is not the BJP but the JD(S) an ally of the Congress.
Anyway, there are lies, damned lies and statistics, so one can read any conclusion one wants into any set of figures.
The interesting idea is, Mr. Kumaraswamy cannot loose elections, as cannot say, Mr. Advani, Ms. Swaraj, and even though I feel I express unacceptably about him, Mr. Manish Tiwari. Now, why do people like Mr. Advani, contest elections with others, and why are there different political parties? It wouldn't be uneasy to have people like Mr. Advani, and Mr. Tiwari, for others and themselves, and they appreciate they don't belong to different parties.
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