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Karnataka jinx: Win state, lose Centre

Bangalore, May 14
While everyone awaits the Lok Sabha poll results on May 16, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have an additional reason to worry over how they perform in Karnataka, for the party which bagged the highest number of the state’s 28 seats in the last two polls lost power in New Delhi.

In 1999, Karnataka elected 18 Congress MPs only to see the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) returning to power at the Centre. The BJP had won seven seats and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) three.

Five years later, the BJP won 18 seats in Karnataka, its highest ever, but the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) beat the NDA in the numbers game and captured power at the Centre.

The Congress got eight seats and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) two.

This time too the BJP is expected to do well in the state, winning almost the same number of seats as in 2004. That might not bring any cheer to the BJP if it fails to retain its allies and win new friends to cross the half-way mark of 272 seats in the Lok Sabha. In 1996 and 1998, the party which won the highest number of seats from the state did taste power in New Delhi. But the blessing came with a jinx as the power slipped away after a short period.

In 1996, Janata Dal (JD) got 16 seats and the United Front government with HD Deve Gowda as Prime Minister was formed at the Centre. In a span of two years the UF saw two Prime Ministers, Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral.

In the mid-term poll in 1998, the BJP won 13 seats, the Congress nine, JD three and others three. BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee returned as Prime Minister at the head of NDA after his first stint in 1996 lasted only 13 days. Vajpayee lasted only a year and it was polls again in 1999.

Earlier in 1977 when Congress was routed in north India in the elections held after the lifting of the internal emergency by Indira Gandhi, Karnataka elected 26 Congress MPs. The Karnataka electorate voted against the national trend again in the 1989 polls, which brought Vishwanath Pratap Singh's short-lived government to power. They gave Congress 27 of the 28 seats.

The electorate may take pride that they are not influenced by any ‘national trend’ when they choose their representatives to the Lok Sabha.

The flip side of this ‘independence’ is the state having little say in running the country and crying hoarse that it is always shortchanged by the central government compared to its neighbours, particularly Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Between 1999 and 2004 when the NDA was in power at the centre, the state was ruled by Congress which had a litany of complaints against Vajpayee’s rule.

In the last five years, with the UPA ruling the country, the state first saw a Congress-JD-S coalition government, followed by BJP-JD-S rule. — IANS

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