Monday, April 29, 2013

The Karnataka Conundrum

NaMo came and NaMo spoke, but whether BJP conquers or not will be evident only after counting after May 5, 2013 elections. Everyone is tight-lipped about the outcome of the assembly elections in Karnataka. The Congress is (possibly rightly) feeling confident, while the BJP is (certainly well deservedly) feeling down and almost out.

In 2008, the BJP came to power on its own riding on the sympathy wave for its star, B S Yeddiurappa. In the past four five years a lot of water has flown through the river Kaveri. A detailed and complicated analysis of what happened to BJP in Karnataka in the past years is not the purpose of this article. Therefore, as lay persons, let us look at the situation in a somewhat simplified manner. What we are presenting here is a mix of facts and fiction, information and imagination.

In 2004 the BJP (NDA) was over confident of winning; but it lost. In 2009, it was confident and it lost again. Just prior to 2009, the BJP had won, quite comfortably and quite convincingly, in Gujarat (2007) and Karnataka (2008) assembly polls. And both states did farely well for the BJP in parliamentary elections too. However, if the 2004 defeat was shattering, the 2009 defeat left the central BJP leadership flustered and frustrated. And, thereafter the central leadership, almost went after "state leaderships" with a mad vengeance. While a Kalyan-Singh was done on Uma Bharti post 2004; the same was done on BSY in Karnataka post 2009. Well, not immediately though.

To cut a long story short, the internal conflict in the BJP is, as the grapevine has it, about the rivalry between B S Yeddiurappa (now in KJP) and H N Ananth Kumar. It is not that without this rivalry the BJP would surely have won Karnataka-2013; but it is quite possibly so that with this rivalry the BJP is sure to lose Karnataka; notwithstanding Modi's token campaign. While it is true that Modi has many fans, but whether they will turn into votes for the BJP in Karnataka assembly polls is still far from certain. They will surely turn into votes for Modi in the parliamentary elections, if Modi is declared the PM candidate.

Presently there are four major players in Karnataka. Alphabetically: (1) BJP (2) Congress (3) JD(S) and (4) KJP. Our conjecture is that had the BJP not split, the contest would have been between the BJP and JD(S). This is because the Congress' reputation is quite low, thanks to scam filled UPA past. In a recent "survey" the CSDS predicted that the Cong will win 100+ seats on its own. That seems far fetched to us. Had Congress not been as tainted with corruption as it is as of now (though it is largely the work of the UPA at the center), it could have made huge gains (possibly as predicted by the CSDS). However that, most likely, will not be the case. The CSDS survey appears to be a "sponsored survey".

For whatever it is worth, our wild guess is 224 seats will be divided thus: One party getting about 80-100; One party getting about 60-80; One party getting about 35-45; the fourth getting about 20-30; and Others getting the rest. Or a somewhat more abstract description would be that the parties will get seats like 1/3+, 1/4+, 1/4-, and 1/4-- (as fraction of 224). Our surmise is that parties will get seats in the following order: KJP: 80-100 (1/3+); JD(S): 60-80 (1/4+); Cong: 35-45 (1/4- or even lesser); BJP: 20-30 (1/4-- or even lesser). 

BSY is no saint, but he has quite likely been wronged by the 'central leadership'. HNA is no devil, but he has quite likely played the 'central leadership'. The present situation is such that KJP does not mind losing so long as BJP loses badly and vice versa. It is possible that both lose, but it is highly unlikely that both will gain. This is a battle of survival for both BSY and HNA, or rather an arms wrestling contest between them. While BSY is largely relying on his own resources, HNA is relying on the already established BJP cadre. And yet, the hearts of the cadre themselves are being torn! While the 'workers' want to work for 'high ideals', the leaders seem to work for their egos!

The strategy behind pitching Modi against BSY is that at least one of them will lose and that reduces one rising-politician-from-state who might become a rival of the 'central command'. This is Congress culture! Modi in his speech was focussed in criticizing Congress while he made oblique comparisons between BSY, and Shankar Singh Vaghela and Keshubhai Patel of Gujarat. If this is a strategy to divide anti-BJP votes, then it seems to be a stupid strategy, at least in Karnataka. On the other hand if BSY declares that his party will support NaMo for PM, then he can minimize the adverse impact of Modi's campaign for BJP on the prospects of KJP. If KJP declares its support for NaMo for PM, it will be the first party (even before BJP) to do so!

However, NaMo has played into the hands of the 'central command' by agreeing to campaign in Karnataka. If politics is about justice, then it must as much be about justice within the party too. And the worst part is, if Karnataka does not end up being Gujarat, then it will end up becoming Uttar Pradesh!

Last but not least: While one of the greatest threat to Hindus comes from secularism, there is a mad rush among parties to be secular (read Islam appeasers). Ditto Socialism. 

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