Karnataka aftermath proves 2019 will be BJP vs All: Congress appears set for life playing second fiddle

BJP will need 250 seats to feel safe, considering the limited pull of its allies — SAD, Shiv Sena, PDP and smaller parties in the North East may not add more than 20-25 seats

Tuhin A Sinha May 21, 2018 09:58:01 IST
Karnataka aftermath proves 2019 will be BJP vs All: Congress appears set for life playing second fiddle

The Karnataka verdict and what followed immediately after, until BS Yedurappa tendered his resignation before the trust vote, has important lessons for our democracy. Moreover, it has serious political implications for 2019.

First of all, the Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala was right in inviting BS Yedurappa to form the government. In the absence of a pre-poll alliance and where post poll partners have fundamentally fought against each other, the single largest party should always have the first right to form the government, especially if it is less than five percent of the total seats away from majority.

Karnataka aftermath proves 2019 will be BJP vs All Congress appears set for life playing second fiddle

Representational image. Reuters

However, I would also welcome the Supreme Court ruling here. In such a situation, the new chief minister should prove his majority immediately. Ideally, there should be a secret ballot, the idea being that MLAs forced into an unanticipated post-poll alliance, should have the right of "conscience voting" or abstention. Anyway, it is the political implications of Karnataka, that are more complicated and which make 2019 that much more intriguing right away. Let us see how Karnataka is going to impact each of the parties in 2019.

BJP: The party will need 250 seats to feel safe, considering the limited pull of its allies — Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, PDP and smaller parties in the North East may not add more than 20-25 seats. Hence, the party will need to more innovative in identifying winnable candidates and beating the anti-incumbency factor. The Karnataka fallout may actually help the party to reap rich dividends in the South.

Congress: The party is actually the biggest loser, even though it is determined to behave otherwise. By bowing to the bargaining might of the JD(S), it has actually sent a very negative message: For the Congress, 2019 is not about winning as much as it is about preventing the BJP from winning. Hence, with this defeatist mindset, the Congress has let the illusory Third Front lead the 2019 battle, happy to play second fiddle. It is unlikely that a greedy Third Front having tasted success in Karnataka, will even remotely let Rahul Gandhi fancy himself as a prime ministerial candidate.

Third Front: A grotesque conglomeration of third rate parties, this alliance is suddenly going to come alive now. So while Mamata Banerjee will let TMC goons murder democracy in West Bengal at will, she will not hold back from giving sermons to the country about how to save the country from the BJP. The JD(S)-Congress dalliance reminds one of 1996-97 when the prime minister's position was virtually decided by lottery. Hence, it is not unlikely that 2019 will have multiple prime ministerial aspirants, each wanting the other to read the mandate 'his' way.

By all accounts, 2019 is quite clearly BJP versus all and sundry — a prospect that is as challenging as it is exciting for a party like the BJP that has only emerged stronger from every onslaught. Bring it on! The BJP will be in power till 2029.

Tuhin Sinha is an author and young BJP leader

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