A number of factors have come up when analysing the Congresss victory in the Karnataka Assembly elections the anti-incumbency against the BJP,corruption and misgovernance by its government,the exit of key leaders from the party,as well as the regional restrictions of parties like the JD(S).
The poll strategy of the Congress is not a factor that comes into the picture immediately. But to give the devil its due,in retrospect,the partys impressive win could have as much to do with it playing many of its cards right,as the follies of the BJP.
One of the most important factors may have been the Congress playing the waiting game,especially in the last two years of the BJP government. By refusing to intervene through the governor or a trust vote to pull the plug on the BJP government even when its numbers in the Assembly fell from 117 to 105 in January this year following the exit of 12 B S Yeddyurappa men,the Congress in effect accentuated the public exasperation towards the BJP.
As two key BJP leaders caught up in corruption investigations Yeddyurappa and G Janardhan Reddy split from the party to create their own parties,it also played out to the benefit of the Congress. The KJP of Yeddyurappa and the BSR Congress of Reddys associate B Sreeramulu carved up the BJP vote base into two or three parts in as many as 40 constituencies around the northern parts of the state.
The Congress also played the caste card well,discarding the traditional view of pundits that you need one majority community Lingayats or Vokkaligas on board along with OBCs,Dalits and minorities to ensure victory in Karnataka Assembly elections. While not ignoring the majority communities outright,the Congress focused its campaign on its strengths the OBCs,Dalits and minorities.
With the KJP splitting the Lingayats,the Congress won seats in large numbers across the state despite the JD(S) netting a chunk of the Vokkaliga vote.
In candidate selection,the focus on ability to win above all also played out well in the end for the Congress despite slip-ups on account of pandering to the interests of its myriad leaders. Lastly,the party scored with its simple campaign of stability and good governance,tapping right into the mood of the people.
Johnson is a senior assistant editor based in Bangalore
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