‘A fractured mandate in Karnataka is just right. A BJP win would have been a validation of its dark, dangerous tactics’

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The BJP’s constant raga since May 15 has been that the #KarnatakaVerdict is a decisive mandate against the Congress. Its motormouth president Amit Shah says so, its various functionaries in the State say so, it is what its media lapdogs say so, ad nauseam.

Without a shadow of doubt, 104 is greater than 78—BJP’s tally has gone up from 40, Congress has come down from 122. But merely repeating the claim does not overturn the simple fact that the people of Karnataka have delivered a fractured mandate.

None of the three parties have found favour with the people. BJP has more seats than Congress, but Congress has more popular votes than BJP: 1.38 crore votes to 1.32 crore votes. The JDS has some 66 lakh votes.

A. Narayana, the journalist turned academic, who teaches at Azim Premji University, puts it much better, in today’s Praja Vani. Loosely translated, these are some of the salient points he makes.


There is no confusion in the people’s mandate. In fact, there is enormous clarity. The people have delivered the right verdict after observing all three parties. The people have sent the clear signal that they did not trust any of the three parties entirely to hand over the reins to them. In the words, the people have conveyed that they do not wish any of the three to form the government on their own.

The people have suggested what they could through the ballot. It is not possible for them to denote who should tie up with whom to form the government. So, eventually who ties with whom is an eventuality that is neither for nor against the mandate. It is not a question of right versus wrong, legally or morally.

BJP says the people have decided they do not want Congress rule. Inasmuch as it is true, it is equally true that the people have not decided they want BJP rule. If the BJP can hear the verdict, the message is clear: even after five years in the doghouse, the people have not completely forgiven the BJP.

When the BJP avers that as the single-largest party, it should have got a shot at power, what it implies is that the Congress should have allowed BJP to tie up with JDS. But when we look at the results dispassionately, it should become obvious that despite throwing everything it could into the race, not only did BJP fail to get a majority on its own, it also did not procure the 110 seats it did in 2008.

Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s un-primeministerial speeches, the covert and overt support of Lingayat Mutts, the money power of the Reddy Brothers, the RSS cadres who painted the Congress as anti-Hindu, the propaganda on social media campaigns, the advertisements, etc, BJP has ended up with six seats fewer than what B.S. Yeddyurappa earned on his own. What does that suggest—the power of the BJP or the limits of it?

Against this backdrop, the verdict of 2018 seems just appropriate. The people have neither backed the BJP’s dark campaign nor the Congress’s lacklustre one. They have also not backed the simple arithmetic of the JDS. The people of Karnataka have poked each of the three parties to change themselves.

In these circumstances, a fractured mandate is just right. Had the Congress got a majority on its own, that party would have seen it as a justification for its half-cock, complacent administration. If the BJP had got a majority, it would have seen it as a validation of its dangerous, no-holds-barred campaign. It would have become a model for a new political grammar in the future.

Read the full article: All three parties were rejected

Also read: A momentary respite in the battle for the soul of Karnataka