EVEN as a one-party stranglehold seems a given, a Himachal happens, and then a Karnataka. The electorate has its own ways of maintaining checks and balances. The verdicts have no trace of ambiguity too — enough of you for now, it’s time to give others a chance. If they falter, they should know what awaits them. Voter sentiment has little patience for big slogans and big leaders when governance issues that impact lives are neglected. The BJP’s failed bid to retain power in Karnataka has insightful lessons for the party ahead of the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, as well as the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. If corruption and anti-incumbency are the key factors, electoral concoctions such as caste affiliations and religious polarisation can quickly dissipate. Prime Minister Modi’s vote-collecting magic spell, too, has its limitations in the face of public anger.
For the Congress, the comprehensive victory is a huge morale-booster. The party can count itself lucky that its self-goals during the campaign got buried under the clamour for change. How the Congress handles its newly gained heft is the real test, especially while stitching an Opposition alliance for the General Election. One battle has been won, the other has just started. The prospects of harmonious co-existence between astute veteran Siddaramaiah and the high command’s loyalist DK Shivakumar look bleak. Party chief Kharge has a job on his hands. A difficult one, considering how the infighting in Rajasthan is being allowed to fester.
Such has been the BJP’s dominance of late that any setback it suffers is seen by the opponents as a reversal of fortunes. That’s an illusion best ignored when dealing with a party that is relentless and incredibly organised in its pursuits, even to strike hard at the slightest hint of any fissure in the rival camp.
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