Karnataka Elections: Setback for Modi
On Sunday, Modi’s party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced a setback in the state elections of Karnataka. BJP won 66 seats out of 224 seats while the main opposition party in India Congress won 135 seats. Janata Dal (Secular) won 19 and others won 4 seats. The vote share of Congress also increased by more than 4% in the previous election which was held in 2018. With Karnataka’s loss, the BJP has been evicted from all five states of South India.
These elections are crucial since India is going for national elections next year.
Modi Campaigned Himself
BJP’s setback came even as Modi himself held 19 rallies and 6 road shows across the state before the elections. Other senior politicians from the BJP, including central ministers were also seen relentlessly campaigning in the state. The party was hoping to ride on Modi’s magic to overcome anti-incumbency. However, it seems like Modi’s magic failed in the state. This has raised questions about Modi’s charisma.
BJP has been capitalizing on the Modi factor in most of the elections. In Karnataka, the party had its entire bet on Modi’s magic. Therefore, BJP’s defeat in Karnataka also means Modi’s defeat. The win has thus given hope to the opposition party that Modi is not invincible after all.
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Love Triumphs Hate
For the last several years, BJP had tried to stoke communal tensions in the state. Karnataka is the same state where the BJP government last year banned Hijab in schools and colleges. The school education minister, B C Nagesh, who enforced the Hijab in educational institutions lost the elections by over 17,000 votes. The lone Muslim women elected candidate of Congress, Kaneez Fatima, has said that they will lift the Hijab ban. “God willing, we will reverse the hijab ban in the coming days and we will get those girls back to classrooms and they will be able to appear for their exams,” Fatima said. “They have lost two precious years.”
Congress has also promised to ban Bajrang Dal in the state in its election manifesto. Bajrang Dal is an extremist Hindutva outfit that has been at the centre of several communal tensions across India. During his rallies, Modi was seen exhorting his supporters in rallies to chant slogans in support of Bajrang Dal.
For many in India, especially Muslims, Karnataka election results provided some respite as it showed that communalism is not the only thing that matters to the voters.
Meanwhile, Congress had put its entire bet on issues of development, corruption and increasing prices of commodities. It also made sure to take a stand against BJP’s communalism and hatred as the promise of the Bajrang Dal ban shows.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a statement said, “The markets of hatred have closed down, and shops of love have opened in Karnataka.” “We contested Karnataka polls with love, not hate,” he said.
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Karnataka Elections Crucial Before National Elections
Karnataka elections were crucial for Congress since the national elections will be held next year.
The results will also have an impact on the elections of four other states that will be held later this year. Karnataka will provide Congress with a template on how to take on BJP in these four states. Till now, Congress had been inconsistent with its strategy against Modi’s and BJP’s communal agenda. However, these elections have shown Congress how to make love triumph over hate.
Further, the result will give some hope to Congress for the national elections. The election along with the election of four other states later this year will also settle the debate over who heads the opposition alliance against BJP in the national elections next year. Other opposition parties have alleged that Congress always loses when in a direct contest against the BJP. However, the Karnataka elections will change those perceptions.
Also Read: Will India Ban Hijab in Educational Institutions?
National Elections Different from State Elections
Even though the Karnataka elections are being celebrated as a victory of Congress over the BJP and there are talks about its impact on the national elections next year, here is a word of caution.
Indian voters vote differently in state elections and national elections
In state elections, voters keep in mind the issues related to their state while in national elections they keep in mind the national interests. If the same voters that voted for Congress in the Karnataka elections keeping in mind their state issues feel that Modi and BJP best represent the nation’s interests, they will vote for Modi in the next elections.
Hence, we will have to wait and watch if the Karnataka elections will impact the national elections next year.