What BJP Got Wrong - Allowing Congress-JD(S) Alliance And More

Many analysts who support the BJP have been arguing that once the BJP fell short of a majority, the smarter move would have been to ally with the JD(S)

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What BJP Got Wrong - Allowing Congress-JD(S) Alliance And More

Karnataka election: Congress's Siddaramaiah and JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy address reporters

  1. The BJP has always said its main aim is to win the 2019 general election, that the Karnataka assembly elections are a stepping stone to that larger goal.
  2. But the BJP's tactics appear to have been diametrically opposite to their main objective. The result has been to virtually push the Congress and JD(S) together.
  3. If the Congress and JD(S) stay together as allies till the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, based on their current performance, they would win 21 of the 28 parliamentary seats in Karnataka.
  4. Many analysts who support the  BJP have been arguing that once the BJP fell short of a majority, the smarter move would have been to ally with the JD(S). There is of course some doubt about whether the JD(S) would have agreed, given their unhappy alliance in the past, as well as Deve Gowda claiming that he would disown his son HD Kumaraswamy, if he repeated a partnership with the BJP - but had the BJP offered him the  chance of becoming Chief Minister, Mr Kumaraswamy may well have succumbed.
  5. A BJP-JD(S) alliance for the Lok Sabha  would win them all 28 seats. This is because their voter bases complement each other. The BJP base is strong in the north-central Lingayat belt and the coastal belt in the west; the JD(S) on the other hand is strong in the southern Vokkaliga belt. So it's a perfect electoral match - even if it's not an ideological fit. What's more important? Winning elections or ideology?
  6. Some argue that the story is not over yet. The BJP may still win over some MLAs from the Congress and the JD(S) - with the right inducements, of course. This could even happen before the trust vote on Thursday or in the weeks and months after that - before the Lok Sabha election. So Mr Kumaraswamy will have to keep looking over his shoulder.
  7. Others analysts argue that it's too late. Even if the BJP breaks the Congress-JD(S) alliance and the government falls, the alliance will now stay intact till the 2019 elections. These analysts could be underestimating the size and power of inducements.
  8. Whatever happens, in the final analysis, it will be much more difficult for the the BJP to now untangle the knot that the Congress and JD(S) have tied - and though not impossible, it'll be much more difficult for the BJP to win most of the Karnataka seats in the Lok Sabha elections. It's a matter now of too little too late.
  9. Perhaps even more significant is the impact that the Karnataka tie-up has quickly had on the viability of a Federal Front across the country. It has not been an isolated event - in the contrary, there have been major ripple effects with a clear signal to the Congress and regional parties - that they must do what happened in Karnataka... or die.
  10. The BJP will find it very difficult in 2019 to repeat its near clean sweep of the northern and western states in 2014. It has to make up those losses elsewhere. To lose seats in Karnataka will make it even more difficult to make up the deficit. So the bottom line of the BJP's determination to go it alone rather than accept it did not have a majority is huge: a Congress+JD(S) alliance could win 21 of 28 seats, while a BJP+JD(S) alliance could have won all 28 seats. That works out to a swing of 49 (21+28) -- a swing in seats of this magnitude could even mean make or break 2019.

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