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Six Crucial Take Aways From The Karnataka Elections That You Have Missed

The governor's role is up for scrutiny as he is bound to call the coalition partners to stake claims 

The Karnataka assembly elections produced a hung assembly on Tuesday with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as the single largest party with 104 seats.

In the 222 seats where polls were held (election in two constituencies were deferred earlier), preliminary leads suggested that the BJP was on track to forming a government by securing a simple majority. BJP leaders rushed to the party headquarters and started distributing sweets. Some journalists and analysts started discussing how the verdict was a giant setback for Rahul Gandhi and a big thumbs-up for the Narendra Modi government at the Centre ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Around 2 pm, however, the situation took a dramatic turn. BJP supporters stopped the celebrations midway as the party’s tally dipped while that of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] went up.

Some BJP leaders who were late in reaching the headquarters were even asked to return. The Congress reached out to JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda and the two parties decided to form an alliance with the former PM’s son, Kumaraswamy, as the chief minister.

The BJP called a press conference and blamed Congress for trying to reverse the mandate and trying to sneak back into power through the back door.

They clearly forgot the precedents set in Meghalaya this year and Manipur and Goa last year when the BJP, despite not being the single largest party, successfully formed the government.

With the Congress-JD(S) coalition set to overcome the Modi-Shah challenge, here are the key takeaways from the Karnataka verdict this Tuesday evening:

1) Congress Won More Votes Than Any Other Party

According to the Election Commission of India, while 38 percent votes were polled for the Congress, BJP secured only 36.2 per cent of the votes. This translates to 13,68,1433 votes polled in Congress’s favour and the BJP getting 13,04,1755 votes. This itself should serve as a gentle reminder to not jump the gun for those who are dropping words like “moral issues” and “people’s choice” to back the BJP. Going by the number of votes alone, it is clear that Congress is the party of choice for the voters of Karnataka.

2) The Chanakya & His Master- Shah & Modi Failed

It is surprising that this needs to be said but then again we live in a post-truth age. The so-called Modi-Magic failed. Chanakya could not get the BJP a sufficient majority. The famous strength of the cadre of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) also failed to help the party cross the line. Sure they are the single largest party. They aren’t, however, going to form Government, but wait. S

Shah and Modi either succeeded in Goa and Manipur or they succeeded in Karnataka. In Manipur, the BJP won 21 seats and the Congress 28 in the 60-seat assembly but it was the BJP that eventually formed a government in alliance with other parties. Similarly, in the 40-strong Goa assembly, the BJP had won 13 seats and the Congress 17. And it was BJP again that managed to form an alliance. So depending on which side you lean, decide if the Shah-Modi magic hasn’t worked once, twice or thrice!

In 2008, when Shah and Modi were not in the picture, BJP won 110 seats, this time they are reduced to 104.

3) BJP & Above Caste Politics? Please

The BJP played its caste cards right and ended up victorious in the state’s coastal belt. Modi’s claims of keeping his politics above caste equations have died an early death,  especially in light of the attempts made by BJP to communalise Mangalore, Bhatkal and neighbouring areas along caste lines.

4) BJP, Money & Corruption- Modi Taking A Shower Without A Raincoat On

An RTI reply has revealed that the Modi government has spent more than Rs 4000 crore on advertisements in the last 46 months. During the Karnataka elections, readers of newspapers in the state were greeted with front-page ads every day. The party spent a huge amount of money on advertising. Where is this money coming from? So much money in a party led by a man who likes to claim he is a fakir?  The BJP gave seven tickets to the Reddys of Bellary -perceived to be extremely corrupt. Many party insiders said the high command couldn’t ignore them because they brought money and muscle power to their fold. The success of the BJP in Karnataka- even in the seats they got was aided by corruption and money power.

5) Will The Governor Of The State Please Stand Up?

Quick flashback: The single largest party was not invited by the governor to form a government in Goa and Manipur in 2017 and in Meghalaya in 2018.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley feels it is not the BJP, but the JD(S)-Congress post-poll alliance that should be invited by the governor to form a government in Karnataka. Surprised? Well, it is the finance minister’s old tweet that resurfaced on social media on Tuesday.

Sitaram Yechury and Tejaswi Yadav also tweeted:

 

According to the rules, Governor Vajubhai Vala should do two things, a senior advocate told The Wire:

1) In case the governor notes that the single largest party does not have a complete majority, which in this case is true, he/she is bound to invite the parties which come together as post-poll coalition partners with a complete majority.

2) There are precedents like Goa and Manipur which the governor can take into consideration. The governor also might ensure that horse-trading doesn’t take place.

Hence, if the governor invites BJP it will be an opportunity for them to indulge in horse-trading which goes against the spirit of the Constitution.

Notably, Vala had vacated his Rajkot II seat to allow Modi to contest and win his first Assembly election from Gujarat in 2001. In September 2014, he was appointed as Karnataka’s governor soon after the BJP came to power.

Vala was also the speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly from 2012 to 2014 and the state BJP chief between 2005 and 2006.

6) No mention of the Gujarat-model or for that matter any model in any state being ruled by the BJP.

That the BJP is governing more than 20 states in the country did not seem to help the party showcase a practical “development model” for Karnataka. The BJP was, in fact, silent on the (non)achievements of its governments in other states and relied on the tried and tested advantages of running a campaign that polarises the electorate on caste and religious line.