With casteism and moneybags dominating politics, it might be a long wait for people of Karnataka…
First to damage itself was Janata Dal(Secular). Ever since the party announced its candidate for Hebbal assembly constituency by-election that was held six months ago, trouble has been brewing between its Muslim faction and party elders. Muslim leaders wanted to support the Congress party candidate to avoid splitting of their community votes but the JD(S) leadership refused to oblige. The rebellion continued in the subsequent Zilla and Taluk Panchayat elections but the party managed to survive unscathed and did much better than many had expected.
This emboldened the party leaders to gamble in the ensuing Vidhana Parishad and Rajya Sabha elections by fielding candidates to test its mettle and send a strong message to dissenters and opponents. But it was humbled and the leadership was left red-faced as rebel group got larger and failed to obey the whip. Independent MLA’s who initially promised support were also weaned away by rivals resulting in an ignominious defeat of party nominees.
The Congress party has been in a free fall since it assumed power three years ago as governance has taken a backseat to politicking. It has continued to this day and will likely last till the next election. Farmer suicides of last two years have been followed by a wave of police officer suicides this year. Upright state bureaucrats in many departments have been complaining of harassment by political masters. The final coffin was nailed when a Deputy Superintendent of Police, in a television interview just before committing suicide, named the Bengaluru Development Minister Mr. K J George along with two other higher ups in Police Department. With both the Government and Congress Party refusing to act, a district court stepped in and forced police to file a First Information Report (FIR) that led to the resignation of the Minister.
utside the Government, the party has suffered electoral reverses in all elections held thus far in the state. It lost two of the three by-election seats, the all important Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike municipal election and failed to live up to expectations in the Zilla and Taluk panchayat elections. The state leadership has convinced the party High Command that factional fights between loyal congressmen and new entrants is the main cause of electoral reverses that can be set right before the next assembly election.
With JD(S) facing rebellion and Congress party performing poorly, people were looking at the BJP for an alternative. Regrettably, there is bankruptcy in the BJP’s state leadership. And worse, by bringing back discredited and defeated leaders the BJP has joined the self-destruction race. Mr. Yeddyurappa, a rebel who promised to destroy the BJP in the 2013 assembly election, has not only been brought back into the fold but has also been rewarded as its state President. However voters today view him as a Lingayat leader rather than a state leader who has the trust of all communities. Thus far he has been more of a divider and a force of destruction than a uniter who can strengthen the party. The BJP leader in the Vidhana Sabha is a failed Chief Minister while in Vidhana Parishad its leader is a loose cannon who was defeated in the last state election but was nevertheless given a backdoor entry to the corridors of power.
Even amongst its parliamentarians, a leader of stature has failed to emerge who can lead the party in the next assembly election. Modi government is of the view that ministers from Karnataka are non-performers. Mr. Sadanand Gowda, a former Chief Minister, has been shunted from the Railways to Law and now to the irrelevant Statistics and Program Ministry. Mr. Ananth Kumar, a six time Member of Parliament, has been below average performer in a not too important Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers while Mr. Siddeshwara was dropped from the Council of Ministers.
espite downward spiral and self destruction, all three parties strongly believe that voters can be won over by pandering to the lowest common denominator- caste and currency. JD(S) thinks that voters having entrusted the BJP and Congress to govern the state in 2008 and 2013 will finally bestow the honor on Mr. H D Kumaraswamy. It is trying to woo the Muslims and Dalits to add to its Vokkaliga base. The Congress party believes it has perfected the AHINDA (Backward Classes, Dalits & Minorities) electoral math and having showered benefits on these communities will carry them on D-day. The BJP deems itself as the best alternative to the Congress in the State. It expects substantial support from the Lingayat community along with backward classes who strategists have concluded can be brought to the party fold with a strong campaign from none other than the Prime Minister.
With casteism and moneybags dominating politics, it might be a long wait for people of Karnataka before a leader of stature can emerge and good governance to take center stage. Hope it will not be an eternal wait since the people of the state certainly deserve better.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
He tweets at @envyk_blr.