Lesson from Karnataka

On the day when the CAB dominated the political discourse of the country, the result of the bye-election in Karnataka sent out a chilling message to the opposition parties. The BJP is set to make big gains in the Karnataka bye-polls as it was leading in 12 out of 15 seats where polling was held on 5 December. The ruling BJP needs to win at least seven seats to claim a majority in the house, which will have a strength of 224 after the bye-polls, with two seats still vacant. Twelve of the 15 seats were previously held by the Congress and the remaining three by the Janata Dal-Secular or JD (S). The result has forced the Karnataka Congress chief, Dinesh Gundu Rao, and Congress legislative party leader Siddaramaiah to quit from their respective posts.
With every victory, whether won at the polls or through subsequent backroom dealing, the BJP’s advantage grows sharper. For the opposition, whether the Congress or regional parties, the threat is existential. In the bye-polls, both the JD (S) and the Congress fought the election separately. There was general belief among both the parties that the people would punish the defectors, but that did not happen. The Congress was deeply divided in Karnataka. The factionalism has hurt the party more than the BJP. Across the country, the situation is the same for the grand old party. Regional parties like the JD (S) and also the Congress have to understand that the BJP is massively ahead of them in every sphere. They will not be able to defeat the saffron party on their own, and will have to rethink their strategy. The Karnataka bye-poll result is a big lesson for them.