Message from Karnataka

By-elections were held in three Lok Sabha and two Vidhan Sabha constituencies in Karanataka on November 3. The results are out. The BJP has lost four to the Congress JD(S) alliance. The only Lok Sabha seat it could win was Shivamogga where State BJP chief B. S. Yeddyurappa’s son was contesting. Coming as they do just weeks before five State Assembly elections and months before the general election, the results should worry the BJP. It has to be borne in mind that the by-polls were held in an atmosphere in which the tempo of the belligerent propaganda of the Hindutvavadis over Sabarimala and Ayodhdya was rising in a crescendo. But the electorate in Karnataka has shown that it has remained totally unmoved by the perfervid appeals to militant HIndutva.
While local issues did figure in the by-polls, the Congress-JD(S) alliance main propaganda plank was the non-performance of the BJP Government at the Centre and the non-fulfillment of the promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Burning issues of the day, from the rising price of fuels to the steadily depreciating rupee, the escape from the country of one fraudster after another after embezzling thousands of crores of people’s money, the distress of the farmers, the shrinkage in employment – these were more important to the people in the constituencies where the by-polls were held than building a Ram Temple or not allowing entry of women in the Sabarimala temple.
If the Karnataka by-poll results are taken to be reflective of the prevailing mass mood in the country then the BJP has to take serious note of them and the political message that they bring. Whipping up passions over building a Ram Temple at Ayodhya may not fetch the electoral dividend the BJP is hoping for. The intoxicating slogan of Mandir wahin banayenge may not be able to sway the voters this time. In fact, it is likely enough that henceforth the Mandir issue will bring ever diminishing returns to the BJP. The party will have to change its political rhetoric, readjust its political perspective and redraw its political agenda. Building a Ram Mandir at the site where the Babri Masjid once stood, the politically conscious electorate of the country is realizing, will not bring them any relief in their day-to-day struggle for existence. The BJP can ignore the message from Karnataka only at its own peril.

Thursday, 8 November, 2018