Outcome of Karnataka Assembly elections would impact the national political scenario and equations in a big way.
Usually Assembly elections are of local importance, but the May elections to the Karnataka Assembly would be different as it is likely to create more than just ripples across the country. The Congress rightly put it this way at its recent Congress plenary session: Intervening in the discussion on Karnataka elections, Sonia Gandhi compared the coming Karnataka elections to that of Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha victory of 1978 where Indira Gandhi and the Congress took on the combined might of a united opposition. The present elections in Karnataka would give a “new direction” to the country’s politics like it did four decades ago, said Sonia.
So, what is the new direction? If the Congress upsets survey findings and manages to win, the BJP and, more so Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will have a tough time as the nation heads to general elections next year. It will also cement Rahul Gandhi’s position as party chief and he may emerge as a possible Prime Ministerial candidate. He has already made this amply clear when he said recently that he will be the PM candidate if the Congress emerges as the largest single party in the coalition.
A Congress win will also witness a collective unity among the present disparate Opposition parties desperate to halt the string of defeats at the hands of the BJP. There will be a new josh in the combined opposition to halt the NaMo bandwagon.
The recent talks between Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Sonia Gandhi should be seen in this light. Indications are that Mamata is ready to even shed her bitter animosity to the Left parties, especially the CPM, for the sake of keeping the BJP at bay and if the Congress is ready to lead the combined Opposition.
A Congress win in Karnataka will also put a question mark on the BJP’s preparedness for the 2019 general elections. But before that, the BJP will have to tackle Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where Assembly elections are due just months ahead of the general elections. In both these states the Congress is on an upbeat mood following the party’s spectacular win in the recent by-elections. Moreover, the two states have strong leaders in Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia who can match Modi’s oratorical skills and Amit Shah’s behind-the-scene manipulative moves.
A defeat for the BJP will surely infuse jet fuel into Opposition flight to capture power in Delhi.
But if the BJP manages to win Karnataka, it would make matters easy for the saffron brigade for the 2019 elections. It will also leave the opposition unity in tatters and Congress party’s ability to lead a combined opposition will be in serious trouble. The win will also see the BJP advancing the general elections to coincide with the assembly polls in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
But even if the BJP does not win but manages with just a face-saving performance, the BJP will still, in all probability, call for early general elections along with the Assembly elections in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh because the party cannot afford to go polls on a weak note. Moreover, the BJP has just one fiery general to take the fight to Opposition camps – Prime Minister Modi. The party cannot afford to deploy him on multiple warfronts at very short intervals.
The Congress and the combined opposition are sharply targeting this factor. Party leaders are working towards either neutralising the “X factor” – Narendra Modi — in pulling votes or open up multiple war fronts. Both these tasks would be an uphill climb.