As right wingers, one of our obsessions is worrying about stuff. Not just in general… about every class monitor election… it is all part of our big grand worry about the 2019 General Election 🙂 Because we can’t get the ghost of 2004 out of our heads. Worrying about 2019 makes right wingers who we are. It’s what we do 🙂
Ultimately, no one can predict elections … be it state elections or general elections… years in advance. A week can be a long time in politics. Let me remind you that merely one month ago, everyone thought that demonetization was going to be the No. 1 issue in the election. No one can predict the ebb and flow on a daily basis.
So what really matters is controlling squares on the chessboard. The party that has the best leaders in key positions in maximum number of states will win the most elections. You can’t really say anything about specific elections… just like you can’t predict with certainty the outcome of a specific coin toss. What we can say however, is that if the coin is sufficiently biased towards say “Heads”, then “Heads” will come up a lot more times than “Tails”.
India is like that chessboard. The Congress used to play the game well. It faced many challengers over decades, but it always controlled enough squares on the chessboard to fight back. The Congress lost in 1999, but it was still sufficiently strong in enough places to edge out the BJP in the waveless election of 2004. It had solid batteries in place in most states… not all of them would fire in any given election…but always enough of them fired to keep the party in power nationally. The 2004 win, for instance, was built on the backs of the Congress strength in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
It is with 2014 that the bottom fell out of the Congress party. The Congress has become marginal in Delhi and in Andhra Pradesh. Urban support for Congress in Maharashtra has crumbled to the point that the upcoming BMC elections are between BJP and Shiv Sena, while Congress would be really lucky to get even 15-16% of the votes.
Meanwhile, the new states of India show the direction of the nation’s polity. Take Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. The Congress has never won an election in 3 out of the 4 new states created in this century!
And now the Congress is crumbling in one more large state with 28 seats : Karnataka.
There he goes. Perhaps the last Congress leader who could actually be credited with something. S M Krishna was the man who saw the potential of Bengaluru. Yes he was really old. Yes, he had no conceivable political future at this stage. But his need to quit the part so publicly shows what is happening to the Congress. No mass leader wants his name to be associated with the Congress party.
At his age, S M Krishna is no threat to anybody. No wonder Yeddyurappa has personally welcomed him to join BJP. It’s a pure win-win. The BJP gets to shame the Congress by taking its last “vikas purush” in Karnataka. And no BJP leader has to give up any political space for the 84 year old S M Krishna.
This when the Congress was facing disaster in Karnataka anyway. The BJP of course continues to lead a charmed life in Karnataka. There are few states in which BJP has made as many mistakes as they made in Karnataka. Start with the misadventure of making Deve Gowda’s son Kumaraswamy the Chief Minister back in 2007. Then go to how the BJP removed Yeddyurappa due to Lutyens outrage. Then go to how the BJP allowed Yeddy to quit and form a separate party!! Even in the recent Kaveri dispute with Tamil Nadu, boycotting Siddharamaiah’s all party meeting was an absolute disaster. As if that wasn’t enough, there came the silly comments from Shaina NC! When the whole of Karnataka was going crazy over Kaveri water, Shaina NC comes out and speaks in favor of Tamil Nadu. The Kannada local channels went nuts, leaving BJP fumbling for answers. Yes, Shaina NC is Aamir Khan’s best friend and for some reason also Fadnavis’ best friend. This is what happens when pure nonsense “leaders” shoot their mouths off on issues they are absolutely clueless about. But somehow the BJP survived this as well. Modi swooped in and grabbed the opportunity to take a stand on the Kaveri water tribunal. He saved the day.
(Side note: Please read the above paragraph purely in terms of realpolitik. BJP has no immediate stake in Tamil Nadu but a lot of political capital invested in Karnataka. In my mind, there was no doubt which state Modi should have backed. I will say the same about the SYL canal issue between Punjab and Haryana. BJP should back Haryana).
But all’s well that ends well. The BJP continues to live its charmed life in Karnataka. And the Congress is taking itself out of contention for another 28 Lok Sabha seats. Excellent. One more step towards Congress mukt Bharat.