Monday, May 26, 2008

BJP Surges Ahead, Congress Losing Relevance

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) created history after it routed the Congress Party and the much hated Janata Dal(Secular) and form it's own Government in the state of Karnataka (South India) for the first time in its history.
The party won 111 seat out of 224 seats and thus falling short of 2 seats for a simple majority. The BJP would be taking help of the independent candidates who have won the elections.

It is a moment of triumph for the Saffron party as it won the elections on the development plank and also the negative vote JD(S) garnered. People came out in force to kick out the JD(S) and it's much hated boss and former Prime Minister, Hardanahalli Doddagowda Devegowda (HD Devegowda).
Many senior leaders lost this elections including the former chief minister of Karnataka, Bangarappa and his two sons and another former congress chief minister, Dharam Singh.

Except for South Karnataka where JD(S) fared well, BJP triumphed in the Mumbai-Karnatak region(bordering Maharashtra) and Hyderabad-Karnatak Region (bordering Andhra Pradesh).

B.S.Yeddyurappa belonging to the Lingayat Community would sworn in as the Chief Minister on 28th May 2008.

This is 16th loss for the Congress Party after it wrested power from BJP in the Center and they are making the same mistakes in every election they are contesting.

The Congress report card:

2004: Won: Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra.
Lost: Karnataka, Orissa, Sikkim

2005: Won: Haryana.
Lost: Jharkhand, Bihar

2006: Won: Assam, Pondicherry: Congress retains power.
Lost: Bengal, Kerala In Tamil Nadu, the party is a minor ally of the winning DMK.

2007:: Won: Manipur, Goa
Lost: Punjab, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat

2008: Won: None
Lost: Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Karnataka

Here are list of Congress Party's failures:

Failure of Rahul Gandhi:
The Congress Party tried to project Rahul Gandhi (Rajiv & Sonia Gandhi's son) as Prime Minister in the making. But, where ever he went to campaign on behalf of Congress Party, the party is getting routed - a serious dent to the aspiring "Yuvraj".

Failure To Project Future Chief Minister:
Another area where Congress Party blundered is in naming their chief minister candidate. Since the day 1, BJP had named B.S.Yeddyurappa as their Chief Minister candidate thus nipping any infighting in the bud. Congress brought back former chief minister, S.M. Krishna from the post of Governor of Maharashtra but didnot project him as the chief minister so as not to distance the rural voters as Krishna is seen as a Urban oriented person. Other caste equations kept Congress from naming their chief minister candidate.

Sonia Gandhi did not learn any lesson from Gujarat and stubbornly refused to name a candidate to lead the party in Karnataka.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, L.K.Advani while campaigning for BJP projected this lack of a chief ministerial candidate of Congress party would pave way for BJP to form their Government and this prediction proved correct.

Failure to Recognize Regional Leaders:
Since the beginning, Congress Party has followed a rule that no regional leader can be equal to or more popular than the President of the party. Whenever they felt that one particular leader in the party is gaining popularity, the high command used to encourage another leader who is against the popular leader. So, this popular leader now has to concentrate his energies in retaining his post and that way, his popularity would wane. And so, no threat to the President of the party who is de-facto a "Gandhi". The BJP just did the opposite. L.K.Advani never felt bad in promoting regional leaders like Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Bhai Modi. Many a times Advani, gracefully shared stage with Modi in Gujarat where Modi is given more importance.

His one time protege draws more crowds these days than than him, but for Advani it is advantage BJP. He has handled Modi's popularity with a positive mindset. If any regional leader gains personal clout the Congress party does everything to cut him or her to size. Ask Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit.
The Congress high command failed miserably in understanding what the BJP was doing in Karnataka. The BJP's top leadership was led by state leaders' advice and not the other way round. Is this possible in the Congress party when decisions are only taken at Sonia Gandhi's home at 10, Janpath and not at 24, Akbar road or in Bangalore? I dont think so !!

Failure to Announce Candidates and Manifesto:
The BJP announced it's manifesto and the names of the contesting candidates atleast two weeks earlier than its rivals.
This gave a big boost to the candidates and they started the campaigning process earlier than other parties.
Moreover, the manifesto clearly defined the issues and the party also started the trend of releasing a separate plan for Bangalore and the rest of Karnataka. By doing so, they promised to address the problem of regional imbalance, especially in the northern part of Karnataka.

Caste Combinations:
The BJP played the caste combinations very skilfully when compared to their opponents.
The decision to field a combination of Lingayats, Vokkaligas and the Backwards Castes proved to be a successful mantra for the party.

B S Yeddyurappa was the mascot for the Lingayat community while D Sadananda Gowda, party president and R Ashok took care of the Vokkaliga votes. Eshwarappa and Katta Subramanya Naidu were given a prominent role to take care of the backward class votes.

All parties thought that the BJP would bank solely on Lingayat votes, but the party leadership decided not to tow this line and gave preference to all castes. A division of minority and Vokkaliga votes between Congress and the JD-S also helped the BJP to sail through.

Another mistake that other parties committed was to give too much emphasis to the candidature of B S Yeddyurappa. Both Congress and the JD(S) withdrew their candidates from Shikaripur to ensure that BJP's chief ministerial candidate, Yeddyurappa lost to former chief minister, Bangarappa. They felt the BJP would be defeated if Yeddyurappa lost. However, the ploy went in favour of Yeddyurappa as a section of the voters turned sympathetic to him and his party.

The map of India on the right shows the number of Congress ruled states and the number of BJP ruled states.
Looks like the tables are turning against the Congress Party as it is losing relevance in the Indian political scenario post the drubbing in Karnataka and other state assemble elections.

For the resurgent BJP, the most historic moment would be the 2009 General Elections when it would be looking forward to beat a demoralized Congress Party.

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