The win is a stepping stone for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, said senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah, top contender to be the chief minister again.
After the Congress party swept the Karnataka state elections, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which fought hard to retain power, senior state Congress leader Siddaramaiah termed the victory a “stepping-stone” for the general elections next year.
When asked if the Assembly results in the southern state serve as a semi-final for the 2024 Lok Sabha election, Siddaramaiah, top contender to be the chief minister again, said, “Secularism over communal politics, harmony over hatred. The win is a stepping-stone for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.”
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti described the Karnataka Assembly election results as a ‘ray of hope’, saying that she wished that the rest of the country will also reject “communal politics” and vote for the nation’s development and prosperity.
“The BJP tried its best to communalise the situation as is their habit. They even brought Bajrangbali, religion, Hindu-Muslim to the discourse. The prime minister tried to take the discourse on religious lines. Despite that, people kept these issues on the sidelines and chose the issue of development on which the Congress ran its campaign,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister told reporters here, as quoted by news agency PTI.
The assembly polls in Karnataka, home to 65 million people, has been viewed as a significant bellwether ahead of the Lok Sabha election next year, when PM Modi will seek a third straight term in power.
Since the results were a major triumph for Congress, which has had an otherwise poor record of winning state elections since Modi came to power in 2014, (Only three other states are ruled by the Congress), speculation is rife on whether the grand old party’s performance in this election could translate into gains at the national level.
Well, it may be too early to predict that, but going by history in the general elections, the state has consistently voted for the BJP.
For instance, the BJP’s seat share fell from 110 in 2008 to just 40 in 2013. That year, the Congress won 122 seats and formed the government. However, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 17 out of the state’s 28 seats, while the Congress won just nine.
In 2004, the saffron party secured 79 seats in the 224-member assembly. While it was the single largest party but failed to form the government as the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) formed an alliance, the BJP won 18 of the state’s Lok Sabha seats In the same year.
While the win provides the Congress a much-needed fillip before the general election when it will go up against the BJP on a national level, the party admits it cannot win the polls its own, and is pushing for an opposition alliance. Of course, the win in Karnataka has also put the Congress on stronger footing to negotiate with other parties.
The road to the 2024 elections is long and hard with even more hurdles for the Congress.