The results of the Karnataka election reminded me of the Netflix series 'Queen Cleopatra'. From what I have seen of the series so far, Pompey and Julius Caesar were rivals fighting over Rome. Egypt initially supported Pompey. But when Pompey lost, and sought shelter from Egypt, its rulers thought Julius Caesar would be angry. So, the rulers of Egypt killed Pompey and sent his mutilated body to Caesar, who was far from pleased. A furious Caesar set out to punish Egypt. The moral of the story - the rulers of Egypt blundered as they were not aware of the politics of Rome and Roman pride.
Something similar seems to have happened with the BJP.
Strategy For North Cannot Be Used In South
The BJP's approach in the northern states did not work in the south. The heart of the South is different from the Hindi heartland. Polarisation in the South does not fetch votes as it does in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
It's no wonder that the hijab row, which dominated headlines for months, was hardly mentioned in campaigns. Issues like 'The Kerala Story' and the Bajrang Dal ban, raised in the slog overs, did not work for the BJP.
BJP leaders had high hopes from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's grand rallies in the last phase of the election campaign, but the verdict shows the BJP cannot bank just on PM Modi's mileage.
A Different Definition Of Development In The South
It is now almost certain that beneficiary schemes win elections in the North. But development in the South has a different meaning from that in the poorer states of the North. The promise of free food grain may not win votes in the South.
In Karnataka, the Congress has said apart from 10 kg of free food grain to every poor family, it will give Rs 2,000 per month to every female head of the household, Rs 3,000 to every unemployed graduate, Rs 1,500 to unemployed diploma holders, and will provide free travel for women in government buses.
End of democracy?
The Congress bet on local issues and local leaders, and won the game in Karnataka. The Congress didn't even mention the one issue on which it did not allow parliament to function. Obviously, this is good not only for parliament and the country but also for the Congress. The Opposition often raises the issue of manipulated EVMs but today no one sees anything wrong with them. I hope that the Opposition, especially the Congress, will remember this in the next election. The Congress, which complains about EVMs and often says there is no democracy left in the country, is celebrating democracy in Karnataka today. So, the opposition should not lose heart. If they raise the right issues, give preference to local leaders as well, and work hard on the ground, they have the chance. The Congress needed this victory ahead of the 2024 national elections, but it would be a mistake to consider this tiny medicine dose as a booster shot. The game for 2024 is different.
(Santosh Kumar has a career spanning 25 years in journalism. He has worked for the digital, TV and print media and has written on a wide range of topics, including politics.)
Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.