‘BJP-mukt Dakshin Bharat’ is the catchword doing the rounds in the political circles, following the Karnataka verdict, as a counter to the saffron party’s battle cry, ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’. The Congress scored a stunning victory in Karnataka, surprising itself. Even though the party is yet to finalise its CM candidate, the nature of victory has given a ray of hope to the beleaguered opposition. With a clear majority in the 224-member assembly, the Congress, having bagged 136 seats, is set to form the government on its own, without any need for support from regional parties. In the past, a friction-ridden coalition arrangement with the JD (S) was the reason for political instability and the eventual collapse of its government. Though the BJP has retained its vote share of 36 percent, it ended up losing more than 40 percent of its existing 116 seats in the assembly.
The Karnataka mandate is a clear public repudiation of the politics of hatred pursued by the BJP. The saffron party had deliberately kept the communal pot boiling in the run-up to the elections, focusing on polarising issues like hijab, halal and jihad in the face of mounting anti-incumbency and public anger against an effective and corrupt government. The resounding victory for the Congress comes as a big boost for the grand old party ahead of the next year’s general elections. A significant trend emerging from the latest assembly polls is that the southern state is moving towards a bipolar polity with the Janata Dal (Secular) getting marginalised in its hitherto stronghold of old Mysuru region.