BJP win's 12 of the 15 seats in Karnataka by-polls; Congress and JD(S) bite the dust in the polls which gave a strong message to unholy alliances
BJP’s win in Karnataka by-polls is also a stern message by the voters to political parties which try to usurp the popular mandate through opportunistic alliances whose only aim is to wrest power. The Congress won just 2 seats while JD(S) drew a blank.
The Karnataka by-polls were mandated after 17 MLAs resigned in protest against the way the Congress-JD(S) coalition was run. They complained about the way Siddaramaiah tried to meddle in the government affairs and stymied development in their constituencies. The MLAs who quit were disqualified by then Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar who was accused of being partisan in favor of the coalition. The Supreme Court backed the disqualification but allowed the members to contest. The state government collapsed and Yediyurappa was sworn in as the CM owing to the reduced strength of the Assembly.
Though the former allies Congress and JDS contested separately, the Congress had declared its readiness to tie up with the JDS again if at all BJP failed to win the required number of seats. But as soon as the results were out, Dinesh Gundu Rao quit as Karnataka Congress chief and Siddaramaiah quit as leader of the Congress legislature party.
Enormity of the by-poll results
Twelve of the 15 seats where by-polls were held were previously held by the Congress and the remaining three by the JD(S). Margin of victory indicates the voters sentiment in the state. BJP won with a whopping vote share of 50.3% while the Congress vote share stood way behind at 31.5% and JDS was just at 11.9%. The mandate of more than 50% shows the anger of the people against the JD(S) and Congress which formed an unholy alliance post the 2018 Assembly results only to keep BJP out of power. The Congress won just 2 seats and the JD(S) drew a blank.
BJP has made inroads in constituencies which were JD(S) and Congress strongholds and a BJP win was seen as impossible. One such seat is KR Pete in Mandya district which was a JD(S) bastion. In 2018, BJP had failed to even save its deposit here but the tables have turned with the JD(S) now struggling to save deposits in its own strongholds. BJP won from all constituencies in central and north Karnataka with a handsome margin. Gokak and Chikkaballapur were other Congress strongholds which have now voted for the BJP.
The caste card of the JD(S) and Congress too did not work in their favor. DK Shivakumar, who was arrested on corruption charges and later released, tried his best to play the Vokkaliga card. Vokkaligas are a dominant community in Mandya and are seen as deciding factor in all assembly seats in the district. The sympathy card which Shivakumar tried to foment did not work for the Congress. Congress win in a Muslim dominated Shivajinagar and Hunsur are the only saving grace while the JD(S) drew a blank.
Message for unholy alliances
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken about the by-poll results in the state and in an apparent reference to the recent cobbled-up alliance in Maharashtra has said the Karnataka bypoll results were a message for "all states" that people will punish those who went against the popular mandate.
The people of Karnataka have ensured that the Congress or the JDS will not be able betray them. It's a message for all states that the public will punish those who go against the popular mandate," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally in Jharkhand. He added that "the people of Jharkhand should also learn from Karnataka", that in case of a hung assembly, Jharkhand would see a Karnataka-like situation clearly seeking a decisive mandate from the electorate of the state.
Jharkhand goes to polls in 5 phases between 30 November and 20 December. The Congress has already indicated that it is ready to partner with non-UPA parties if the results throw a hung assembly. Most pre-poll surveys have indicated a hung assembly with the BJP led NDA expected to win the most seats.
Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis has tweeted about the Karnataka by-poll results saying, "In the very first chance they get, this is how voters react to opportunist politics & stealing of mandate by rejected parties by coming together for the sake of power! #KarnatakaBypolls result proves that people won’t tolerate if someone tries to play with public mandate & wish!"
The message of the Karnataka by-poll results are not restricted to the southern state alone. Maharashtra which went to polls last month had given a mandate in favor of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance. However, the Shiv Sena which was hellbent on having the CM’s post for itself, backtracked from its pre-poll alliance with the BJP and formed a coalition with the NCP and the Congress. Though Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as the CM, the resentment among its cadres and voters were all too evident.
While 400 Shiv Sainiks left the party and joined BJP in Mumbai, its long term leaders like Ramesh Solanki quit the party for joining hands with the Congress, a party which was detested and vehemently opposed by its founder Balasaheb Thackeray. There are reports suggesting that many more Shiv Sainiks would leave the party in the coming days.