Karnataka Assembly Election Results:

Krishna Pays Dearly for Aping Naidu

IF the people’s mandate in Karnataka state assembly polls indicates anything, it is not an endorsement of BJP and its communal agenda, rather it is a decisive vote against the pro-rich, pro-urban economic policies pursued by S.M.Krishna led Congress government. This argument is also further reinforced by the significant, unexpected increase in the number of seats won by the JD(S) led by‘farmer’ Deve Gowda, making it the third major component in the state politics. Once again the results have  proved that the heart of the state  lies in the rural areas and any effort to pursue urban elitist development is bound to boomerang.

The Congress government neglected the less developed Northern Karnataka region and rural areas of Southern Karnataka. The agrarian crisis in the state matched that in AP, with a high number of farmers' suicides. The Congress government failed to address the issue,and sidelined the agricultural sector, choosing to focus instead on urban areas and the IT sector. The farmers' community in the southern parts of the state, who are affected by the ‘Cauvery crisis’ and farmers’ suicides, have clearly expressed their choice by electing 58 legislators of JD(S). The Vokkaliga community which once considered Krishna to be their ‘modern’ representative has switched back to their traditional, feudal representative, Deve Gowda. Of the 112 seats falling under 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in southern Karnataka (Old Mysore region), Congress bagged 36 seats against its previous score of 62. While JD(S) secured a sizeable 40 seats in comparison to 5 seats that it held earlier.

Congress retained the support of dalits and muslims. But the BCs, mainly Vokkaligas, its erstwhile supporters, have switched their loyalty to JD(S). BSP has also played the role of spoilsport to Congress in many constituencies even though it could not  gain a single seat.

The real expansion of BJP appears to have taken place in coastal areas and parts of  Mumbai-Karnataka region, where it has tripled its strength. Of the 48 assembly seats under six LS constituencies in this region, Congress has just won 15 against its former count of 34 and BJP has secured 30 seats against its former tally of 9. The BJP victory is thanks partly to its tactic of engineering communal riots and partly to the division in pro-Congress, anti-communal votes. Congress, in spite of its strong overtures towards the Hindu community through events like Samajotsava, could not compete successfully with BJP on a communal plank. Significantly, in this first election since Hegde's demise, it was the BJP which could fill the gap by mobilising a considerable section of his base among Lingayats and Brahmins. JD(U), which claims to have inherited the Hegde legacy, was almost decimated in terms of vote bank  though they  have managed some seats in the assembly. It is  true that the Vajpayee factor  has also worked to the advantage of BJP in places like Bangalore where the BJP has emerged as the clear choice of middle class voters. In fact, middle class voters were divided between the urban orientation of the Congress at the state and Vajpayee at the centre.

The quest for an alternative to Congress was visible in North Karnataka where BJP and JD(S) have picked up many seats. In the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, Congress could retain just 9 seats against the 26 it held earlier. JD(S) strength has gone up to 14 from 3 and the BJP has doubled its tally. The quest for an alternative is also witnessed in the number of votes secured by left parties, including SUCI, Red Flag and CPI(ML) in the region. In the first ever contest in the region, CPI(ML) candidate I.Ramappa has secured 12,413 votes in the Bellary Lok Sabha constituency. CPI and CPI(M) were busy pursuing their tailist policies in the elections and CPI(M) could win one Assembly seat by aligning with the JD(S), while the CPI lost out despite having an alliance with the Congress.

-- Gopal