How Karnataka polls will affect political equations in Maharashtra

Rohit Chandavarkar
Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The big difference is that the Congress has realised that, if required, it should take the back seat and be prepared to play second fiddle to its regional partner party.

The much hyped up political action happening in neighbouring state of Karnataka has finally just come to some kind of a conclusion and looks like it will be business as usual at least for a few months there. However, this election and the high voltage drama that followed for many days after the poll results is being described as somewhat of a watershed moment in India’s political history because it has changed many equations.

The juggernaut of BJP national president Amit Shah and his very aggressive campaign team has received a big setback for the first time in several months. In festive season of 2015, the seemingly invincible team of Modi & Shah had faced a huge failure in the Bihar assembly polls. The BJP lost that election, however, within months, they managed to break the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav alliance and established an NDA government in the state. Over a year later, in Goa and Manipur assembly polls, the public had clearly voted for the Congress party giving them the largest number of seats in those assemblies but the BJP went there and pushed aside the Congress, taking control of both these states. It almost became a habit for the BJP to win each and every election that came their way and then celebrate the victory in almost a routine manner at the newly built party national headquarter in Delhi with PM Modi and Amit Shah addressing the party workers and thanking them. 

It seemed almost clear that this time, too, a similar thing would happen in Karnataka as regional channels in Maharashtra made headlines of how several handlers of the BJP such as party’s Mumbai city President Ashish Shelar were boarding private jets to reach Bengaluru to “manage” a majority for the party in the house. But what happened was an anti-climax and everybody knows how the developments came as a jolt to the ruling party.

It is interesting to see that HD Kumaraswamy did not show any inclination of getting into any kind of alliance with the BJP. It would have been easy for him perhaps just to align with the BJP and get all the support for the state from Delhi but he chose to accept Congress party’s offer instead. That talks a lot of how regional parties look at Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s leadership.

For the first time in last several years, the Opposition in India sensed that Modi and Shah, who looked so invincible till just a few weeks ago, can be beaten if they forget their differences and come together. The big difference is that the Congress has realised that, if required, it should take the back seat and be prepared to play second fiddle to its regional partner party. Karnataka election has shown that if the Congress accepts such a condition, it has a chance of bouncing back in many states where it has lost badly in the recent past.

In Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress has had a longtime trusted alliance partner, as far as Maharashtra is concerned. All leaders and activists of the Congress and NCPhave been watching the developments in Karnataka and now are beginning to sense that the scope for the Opposition is slowly growing especially if they decide to get into a pre-poll alliance. 

It seems that flexibility will be now more to give space to each other and not get into ego clashes over seat sharing, which has happened too often in the past. Just a day after Karnataka poll results, Congress and NCP announced that for Pune Lok Sabha seat, they will cooperate with each other no matter which party gets the nomination. On the other hand, these polls have also given confidence to Shiv Sena that they can take on the might of BJP and now they would perhaps set new conditions if the BJP wants pre-poll alliance with them. 

All this is clearly the Karnataka effect. It now remains to be seen in the coming election season, how these things make impact on the ground situation in the State.

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