When Karnataka went to the polls in May 2008,it was hoped that some clarity would emerge from the hustings in a state that had seen three governments in four years and been mired in the politics of petty squabbling. The results brought that clarity to Karnataka,and yet kept it three seats short in the assembly. The BJP,hoping to secure one state in the south on its own,got its mandate,but managed 110 seats,three short of a majority of its own. Last weeks bypoll results brought the BJP five more seats,and neutralised its dependence on the six Independent MLAs propping up the B.S. Yeddyurappa government. Last Mays elections,and these bypolls,have produced a clear verdict in favour of stability. That the BJP now has a majority of its own is also in keeping with the perceptible and desirable national trend of voters gravitating towards a bipolar alternative. It also bears out the argument that voters have come to increasingly care less about identity politics at the cost of development. That a national party has secured a government,without the need for a coalition,in a state known for long for its complex and sophisticated regional politics must reinforce this observation.
Yet,Yeddyurappas success is built upon a campaign run with a local focus,in a departure from the traditionally national overtones of his partys regional campaigns. It should also be remembered that Yeddyurappas strategy won the BJP rural,urban as well as reserved seats. With his house in order,the CM must now look to the task at hand governance and development. The stability that the state government now enjoys should allow good governance. But Yeddyurappa also has to salvage jettisoned development,not least in Bangalore. This task will not be easy,and yet calls for immediate action,given the threat posed to Indias iconic global city by the economic crisis.
Karnataka has historically been sound on rural self-governance,yet the Hyderabad-Karnataka zone lags behind in development. But Karnatakas biggest failure till date is its cities. The state has done little with the 74th Amendment to the Constitution that deals with urban local government. The CM has to take the initiative in infusing dynamism into these cities to turn them into engines of growth and the means,right now,to beat the economic downturn.