Karnataka: the verdict and the aftermath

June 1, 2008

At last the BJP sees light at the end of the tunnel, hope it’s not that of an incoming train!

“Sangh Parivar outfits try to convert Karnataka into a Hindutva laboratory in the lines of Gujarat”, was the statement made by Deve Gowda, in October 2007, after the JD(S) turned down their promise of power-share with the BJP. After the JD (S) ‘betrayal’ and Governor’s rule, the result of the present Karnataka election seems more towards the dual-party BJP-Congress system, while BJP emerging as the single largest party and the JD(S) getting strongly rejected by the people. There are a number of reasons on the analysts’ minds which I will not discuss here.

Karnataka victory is something for the Lotus party to celebrate high. This is the first time, they cross the Vindhyas down to south with an complete majority, although they had coalitions previously. The BJP making forays in South, right at the Congress’s strongest state, is also pathbreaking. While it shall remove the previous images of BJP as a cow-belt party it establishes the party closer to the people South where RSS is as strong if not stronger. Moreover, this also reflects the increasing faith and credibility among the people about BJP, which might not be a good sign for the Congress.

Though the verdict brings joy in the heart of people who were bored of the same old Congress hypocrites and the whimsical Gowda and sons, the problems are far from over. Appeasing all has never been possible at any level of organizational activity. In such a process, new friends and foes are inevitable. When Kharge, the newly elected opposition leader was hinted at the possible rebellion within the BJP soon after the elections, TV channels and media sources have picked up the scent. Main stream leaders of the sorts of Shettar are unhappy for not being included in the cabinet. To top it even governor Thakur seems to be unsatisfied with his ruling term in the state. He seems to be doing all that’s possible to keep Mr. Yeddyurappa in agony. This could only be the tip of the Ice berg and more could be following in the first ever “right” term in the southern state of Karnataka. There is news that the Reddy brothers wouldn’t be getting forest and mining ministries. All this is only an indication of the political challenges that could prove to be a threat to the government.

While the Congress should get its act together, the task for BJP ahead is also tough. This time, its karo ya maro for the BJP. There are a lot of issues that people are looking up to the new party in power. It includes some of the most contentious issues such as the Cauvery water sharing, implementation of Sarojini Mahishi report, the border disputes with Kerala, TN, Maharashtra and Goa. Karnataka is the 2nd most drought prone state of our country and hence it’s important that the numerous irrigation projects be taken to a logical end. All this needs to be done oblivious of the fact that the government gives rice at Re. 2 or provide free electricity to farmers. The price rise is an easy issue to exploit; the BJP should strive even more so that they can keep it under control. The risk here is simply that they might give the incumbency advantage to the Congress in the union elections. The other challenge will be the farmer suicides. The state will have to make farmer friendly policies to address the issue suitably. Power shortage is a critical issue. With two ultra-mega power projects planned in the state and the locals opposing both, quite vehemently, Mr. Yeddy has a tight rope walk to do. Many fear that the government will be held for ransom by mining lobby and the first signs seem to prove it. The infrastructure crisis of Bangalore and equally or even more importantly, addressing the needs of North Karnataka are quite a challenge for the new government. Also, more critical is the naxalite problem; naxalites being mostly anti-BJP may intensify their operations in the state. Unfortunately, Karnataka has become a terror hub these days. Though the state government alone cannot do much, there is a need for proper coordination amongst the affected states. Hope, the government will take strong initiatives in this regard.

I only wish Mr.Yeddyurappa and his team overcome teething political problems and focus on solving the fundamental issues troubling the people of Karnataka.

May there be light!!

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