Saturday, June 10, 2023

Congress Karnataka win may spoil opposition unity


By Bimal Prasad Mohapatra

Day after the just concluded Karnataka Assembly election, there was an interesting front page header photo and caption in the Bhubaneswar edition of The New Indian Express. Under the title CELEBRATION MOMENT the caption read, “Odisha PCC President Sarat Pattanayak and his supporters celebrating the party win in Karnataka elections, at Congress Bhawan in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.” After seeing this photo and reading the caption, this author had a hearty laugh.

“Should I not laugh?” I told my friend, a die-hard Congress supporter. As asked, I told, “Don’t you know that Congress party candidate lost his deposit in by-election held in Jharsuguda-Odisha along with Karnataka assembly election and the party could not win one Mayor post out of 17 in UP’s state wide ULB election, the state which decides the ruling party or political configuration to rule India? This celebration is nothing less than sycophancy of some political spineless.”

The same newspaper carried TMC supremo Mamata Banarjee reaction with its story I quote, “Didi hails verdict, leaves Cong out: West Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banarjee termed the Karnataka Assembly election results as people’s verdict in favour of vote-to-no BJP and unity in diversity. She, however, did not mention the name of Congress. Election in Chhattisgarh and MP are also coming and in both the states, the BJP will face the defeat. Beginning of the end of BJP before the 2024 LS elections has already begun: said Mamata. Though she appreciated H. D. Kumaraswami for JDS performance, she did not drop names of Congress and Rahul Gandhi while congratulating the candidates who secured victory against the BJP. She said: Kumaraswami also has done well in the election. I congratulate all the wining candidates.”

Congress Bhawan celebration in Odisha and statement of Mamata must have enthused the BJP’s GE2024 strategists amidst pain of loss of a vital state in the south of Vindyas. This loss is the party high command’s own making by way of removing prominent Lingayat leader B. S. Yediyurappa, who struggled hard to build the party in the state, from CM post two years back, and remote controlling party affairs from the centre while having no control over inefficient governance.

However, yes, BJP has lost Karnataka election in so far as in number of MLAs are concerned, but not in percentage of votes the party got. No enthusiastic opposition leaders highlighted this aspect. In 2018 Assembly election, BJP got 36.22% votes; and in 2023, it got 36%, marginal loss of 0.22%, means its support base is intact. While JDS lost 5.06% votes, Congress gained 4.86% votes, means JDS votes migrated to Congress. Here it is needless to mention that JDS otherwise called Janata Dal Secular owned by a family infamous for blackmailing both the national parties several times to remain in power exploiting hung assembly situations ignoring its so-called secular credential. Now, the voters gave a clear verdict cutting to size JDS politics of blackmail and so-called secularism. Perhaps, Kumaraswami smelled hung assembly eventuality day before the counting held, and for that, he lamented in public that ‘no party contacted him’ like they did earlier.

And now a veteran politician Mamata Banarjee, who does not allow Congress to breathe in West Bengal though both of them belong to same so-called secular and anti-BJP camp, praised a big loser Kumaraswami, means Daal Mein Kuch Kaala Hai. Is it that Congress win in Karnataka was not part of Mamata scheme of opposition unity? Mamata is the pioneer opposition leader putting her every effort for opposition unity before GE2024. But, in this case, she pauses.

In Siddaramaih swearing in ceremony, neither Mamata, who attended Congress supported coalition government headed by JDS leader Kumarswami’s oath taking in 2018 with so much of fanfare, nor her favourite humble farmer Deva Gowda family attended. Telengana CM Rao, AAP’s two CMs Kejriwal and Mann, AP CM Reddy and AP opposition leader Naidu were not invited. And Rahul Gandhi, who has been branded Pappu not only by some BJP leaders but also by some opposition leaders -now celebrating Congress win in Karnataka- in their respective states during free-for-all election campaigns, was placed on the centre stage in the swearing in ceremony. In some newspaper front page photos, the T-Shirt and Jean pant clad Gandhi scion exhibiting his white skin tummy found standing in front of Tamilnadu veteran politician CM M. K. Stalin. Sharad Pawar though had been to the gala event was not visible.

Many Congress leaders have now started peddling Congress Karnataka success is due to Rahul Gandhi’s padayatra and LOVE politics ignoring the fact that he covered only 10 MLA constituencies out of 224 in the state. And the party had a worst defeat in Gujarat Assembly election and won the HP Assembly election held simultaneously during Rahul’s padayatra which did not cover these two states. Apart from the above, despite padayatra’s coverage of Western UP, the party had a worst performance in the ULB poll. Means the state specific issues have prevailed over national issues in Assembly election.

Now, the grand old party is completely owned by Gandhi-Nehru dynasty scions, who lack political common sense, vision, maturity and stature their family predecessors had. But they have undemocratic birthright deprivation thought to rule the country planted in their minds by their western collaborators intolerant of India’s all round growth under the present regime, and alongside the party is packed with sycophants and coteries who cannot fulfill their political ambition being members of other parties or forming their own. For them, Karnataka result gave an opportunity to boost Rahul Gandhi to the leadership position of opposition before GE2024 and to claim for major shares in number of MP seats in GE2024 in the states where it will contest in coalition. Will regional parties in opposition camp spare their built up space to a national party? Here, one should not forget that Nitish recently left NDA because BJP tried to encroach upon his party JDS’s domain in Bihar and Manipur. And Lalu’s RJD/Mahagatbandhan cannot forget its foolishness of giving more seats to Congress that the party could not win in last Assembly election which was the reason of BJP-JDS coming to power with paper-thin majority which of course could not last.

Mamata praised a big loser Kumarswami in Karnataka because she sensed Congress’s future move. Akhilesh didn’t attend Siddaramaih swearing-in may be for the same reason. Nitish attended because he is now promoting Bihar’s Yadav dynasty with hope of sitting in PM chair at least for a few days a la Charan Singh to I. K. Gujural in the evening of his political career in the worst case scenario.

Now, Congress strategists hope for a big win in next phase of Assembly election before GE2024. Yes there is scope for the party to win in Chhattisgarh and possibly there is scope of a hung Assembly in MP and Rajasthan. If they happen, Rahul’s Congress will remain rigid for big brother shares in all the states it will contest in coalition. Will TMC, SP, RJD, DMK, NCP, JMM, Left parties, etc. accept such demand when alliance in AP, Telengana, Punjab, Delhi and Odisha, where Congress literally does not exist, is completely ruled out? Where is the number for Congress rejoicing and scope for opposition unity which can challenge BJP juggernaut?

(Author is Sr. Research Fellow – DRaS & Faculty of Management Studies in TGI. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])

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