Karnataka Elections 2023: Defeat of Hate

Karnataka Elections 2023: Defeat of Hate
Defeat of Hate in Karnataka Elections 2023

Ram Puniyani :

The results of the Karnataka Assembly election have not only come as a big relief but also may herald the change for the journey towards ‘Unite India’ and retrieve the values of Indian Constitution which have come under severe strain during the last few years.

In Karnataka Assembly election results of 2018, BJP got 104; Congress got 80 and JDU 37 seats. The Congress-JDU Government, which was formed, was destabilized by Operation Lotus (Another name for buying over elected representatives by BJP), and the BJP Government was formed. This time Congress with 135 seats (43%votes) and BJP with 65 seats and 36% vote share is far behind.

Karnataka was the Southern state where BJP came in through issues like campaigning around Baba Budan Giri Dargah, (a Sufi shrine which was claimed to be a Hindu Mutt) and through Hubli Idgah maidan. During the outgoing BJP regime they brought issues of Hijab, Ajan, and Halal along with the stock in trade issues of BJP like Ram Temple, Cow-Beef and love jihad. And as if to help the BJP efforts for coming back to power; ‘The Kerala story’ a propaganda film based on big lies, half truths and plenty of lies, which was promoted by no less than by the Prime minister himself, was released just around these elections. 

BJP as usual began with ‘Modi Magic’ strategy. The PM and Amit Shah spent a good deal of time in Karnataka holding road shows, rallies and meetings. They were merrily doing all this when Manipur, ruled by the BJP Government witnessed a horrific violence with over 50 dead, thousands displaced and many Churches razed to the ground. During this not a single appeal of peace from PM, no visit to the troubled state to douse the fire.

As a preparation for elections they also tried to propagate a falsehood that Tipu Sultan, the popular folk hero of Mysore, was not killed by the British in the Fourth Anglo Mysore war of 1799, but by two Vokaliggas. This was to play the game of Islamophobia and also to win over Vokalligga. The move flopped very badly. Such manipulations of historical events are paying rich dividends to the BJP in North Indian states. BJP’s favorite game of using history as a tool for communalization did not work here.

The campaign of Congress came in the backdrop when we saw big social movements. During this phase the country saw the biggest protest by farmers against the farm laws brought by the Central BJP government. This period also saw the attempt to disenfranchise Muslims through NRC; CAA. This was followed by the remarkable Shaheen Bagh protests by Muslim women all over the country. These were the backdrop of the Bhrat Jodo Yatra began by Rahul Gandhi of Congress. The yatra was a remarkable success and along with the impact of farmer’s movements and Shaheen Bagh it transformed the national scenario a great deal. The Yatra talked of combating hate, exposing the BJP alliance with crony capitalists, highlighting the issues of poverty, hunger, rising unemployment, issues of dalit, women and Adivasis.

The yatra did change the image of Rahul Gandhi from the constructed image of Pappu to a mature humane politician concerned with the problems of average people and having no false ego of the politicians changing their dress every few hours and bloating their chest. The Congress promises were related to welfare of unemployment, women and poorer sections of society. Congress in a bold and courageous fashion (in current circumstances) talked of banning organizations like Bajrang Dal and PFI (Already banned) for spreading Hate and leading to violence.

Mr. Modi and company were looking for such a handle in which they are experts. Narnedra Modi immediately jumped to his favorite divisive tool. He proclaimed that so far Congress had imprisoned Lord Ram; now they are out to imprison Lord Hanuman, Bajrang Bali. He shrewdly tried to equate Lord Hanuman, the one signifying devotion and strength to Bajrang Dal, whose manifesto calls for Hindu revolution through violent means. Many of whose leaders have been in the news in cases of violence. He used to end his rallies with the slogan of Jai Bajrang Bali. Many felt that Congress has done a mistake by giving a divisive tool in the hands of those who are past masters in this game. Eventually it turned out to be a bold move and called the communal bluff of BJP. Congress leaders accused the BJP for equating Lord Hanuman with Bajrang Dal, as an insult to Lord Hanuman and hurting the feelings of Hindus, which sounded very sane to many voters.

Congress campaigned around the issues of the people while BJP played the communal game to the hilt. The predictions and analysis of voting patterns of the election results shows that Congress got better response from poorer, low caste and village electorate, while BJP got support from the Urban, elite and upper caste in bigger measure. Many analysts have focused more on Lingayat, Vokaligga votes, while the pattern matches more with BJP being closer to the aspirations of upper caste, higher educated-high earning  males.  

Surely these election results will have a strong impact on the future of politics in India. To begin with, the image of Rahul Gandhi and Congress will get a big moral boost. The propaganda that Modi is irreplaceable and BJP cannot be defeated will get a jolt. The communal methods of propaganda may get a real pushback if the lessons of Karnataka elections are properly disseminated to the countrymen.

Another point which is becoming apparent is that if there is a straight fight between the BJP versus the other, BJP may bite the dust in the next General elections. These election results may boost the morale of those who are trying for a united opposition, unite for preserving the secular democratic ethos of the country.

And last but not the least. The role of civil society groups in Karnataka election has been very significant. They started a campaign “Eddelu Karnataka”, “Bahutva Karnatka” and highlighted the failures of BJP Government.  Starting from Bharat Jodo yatra to Karnataka Elections the civil society groups have played an important role. One does look forward to civil society groups committed to the rights of weaker sections of society, playing a similar role in forthcoming elections to ensure that Country comes back to the path and idea of India envisaged by the freedom movement and Constitution of India.