Karnataka political thriller is finally over with BS Yeddyurappa announcing his decision to resign on Saturday after realising the BJP cannot get adequate numbers to prove majority on the Floor of Karnataka Assembly. Yeddyurappa’s announcement was unexpected, until a few hours before the Supreme Court-ordered Floor test in the House when news started trickling in that the BJP leader was mulling to give up the battle to save himself and the party from further embarrassment. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah had also reportedly told Yeddyurappa to not go “too far” and “exit gracefully”.
Yeddyurappa was sworn-in as the Karnataka CM on Thursday by Governor even as Congress and JD(S) claimed they had the majority of MLAs with them. Developments in Karnataka over the last few days will likely go a long way in shaping up the bigger democratic battle coming up in a year from now.
As parties gear up for 2019, here are top takeaways from all that transpired in Karnataka:
1. BJP cannot always outsmart Congress
In politics, there are no permanent winners and losers. Though BJP has been gunning for a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ since 2014, the latter has kept on surprising the saffron party. It surprised the BJP in Gujarat last year, in Rajasthan by-elections and now in Karnataka by forging a timely alliance with the JD(S). Both Congress and JD(S) had fought the assembly polls like bitter enemies, but the moment they realised BJP may become the winner, they came together. The Congress also avenged the previous setbacks its received from the BJP in Goa and other states.
2. Message to all opposition, anti-BJP parties: Congress ready to rally behind a national anti-BJP alliance
The Congress now seems ready to support a national-level anti-BJP alliance and may not want to lead it from the front, if not accepted. In Karnataka, the Congress has “unconditionally” supported the JD(S) despite having more number of MLAs in the state Assembly.
3. Why BJP went all out to grab power in Karnataka
The saffron party emerged as a single largest party in the just concluded Assembly elections in the state. It would have embarrassed the saffron party cadre, had BJP not tried its best to come back to power in the state. The BJP apparently made all attempts to win MLAs from the opposition camp but failed. In the end, Yeddyurappa announced his decision to resign on the floor of the House, taking a high-moral ground but not without facing the heat of horse-trading charges.
4. Congress’ political suicide in Karnataka?
Congress will have little option now but to ally with the JD(S) in 2019 and future Assembly elections and in 2019. From being the dominant party in the state will now be the third-rung player in the state with the BJP and JD(S) occupying the first and second positions respectively in the state in terms of numbers.
The grand old party would also likely be subjected to whims and fancies of the JD(S), which has less number of MLAs in the current assembly as compared to the Congress.
5. Battle for 2019 begins, now
The kind of reactions coming from regional party leaders across the country show the Karnataka political drama has sounded the bugle for 2019 elections. The regional parties sense an opportunity and believe they can haunt the BJP if they unite together way before the next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
6. Modi’s image takes a beating
With reports and tapes of alleged horse-trading attempts released ahead of Floor test in Karnataka assembly on Saturday, PM Modi’s image as an anti-corruption crusader has taken a beating. Even as the PM and BJP chief Amit Shah made last-ditched effort to convince Yeddyurappa from not going “too far” in attempt to form the government, the oppositition has certainly got lots of ammunition to fire at Modi and the BJP.
7. Congress, now a regional party?
The Congress decision to play second fiddle to a small party in a big state like Karnataka puts its national credentials at risk. While all anti-BJP parties celebrated the decision of the saffron party to step back in Karnataka as a “victory of democracy”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee put Congress in the league of regional parties. “Democracy wins. Congratulations Karnataka. Congratulations DeveGowda Ji, Kumaraswamy Ji, Congress and others. Victory of the ‘regional’ front,” she tweeted.
Democracy wins. Congratulations Karnataka. Congratulations DeveGowda Ji, Kumaraswamy Ji, Congress and others. Victory of the ‘regional’ front
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) May 19, 2018
8. Modi-Shah’s weak spot exposed
The Karnataka gambit has exposed the weak spot of Modi-Shah combine. If all opposition parties remain united and hold on to their flock of legislators, BJP may have to bite the dust in future elections.
9. Congress, others can’t question Supreme Court’s credibility anymore
The promptness with which the Supreme Court handled Karnataka case proves that recent criticisms of the apex court by parties like the Congress are unfounded. The Congress would hopefully not question the credibility of the apex court or accuse it of being fixed by the BJP anymore.
10. The opposition can’t attack EVMs or Election Commission anymore
The Karnataka results once again prove that neutrality of the Election Commission and the effectiveness of EVMs. With the results not in absolute favour of anyone, parties would do well if they focus on voters and their policies instead of blaming the voting machines for their poor performance.