This Article is From May 19, 2023

Opinion: Karnataka - The Case Of BJP

Nothing succeeds like success, as the saying goes. Understandably, the victory of the Congress victory has given its cadre, as well as the entire Left-liberal media, a rare opportunity to celebrate. However, it is unfair to exploit the win and use it to vilify the BJP, their favourite whipping boy. Notwithstanding the shortcomings of the outgoing BJP government in Karnataka, the loss in this major state election shouldn't be interpreted as a rejection of the BJP's policies, programmes, and leadership.

Those reveling in the BJP's defeat also dwell on how all its senior leaders were roped into the Karnataka campaign. They fail to understand this is what sets the BJP apart.

One can't compare the BJP with Congress, which has its own reasons to not involve Rahul Gandhi in too many campaign meetings. Many parties suffer from inertia and unhealthy equations between senior leaders. The BJP is known for taking every election seriously, involving as many leaders as needed, and essentially fighting each election to win.

The distinction between Congress and the BJP is also highlighted in how both parties handle their victory or defeat. The BJP leadership, expectedly, has accepted the Karnataka verdict with humility. Several state and central leaders not only expressed gratitude towards the 36% of voters who supported the party but also affirmed their commitment to serving the people of Karnataka with increased determination. Remarkably, none of them, not even a district level office bearer, blamed EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) or the Election Commission. Incumbent Chief Minister SR Bommai also resigned in almost no time.

The Congress wasted no time in directing its criticism towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi, proclaiming the Karnataka verdict as his defeat. As the results poured in, numerous Left-liberal political pundits across TV channels were seen relishing the BJP's setbacks. Sadly, many editorial comments also smacked of inherent bias against the BJP, in complete disregard of journalistic objectivity.

This bias against the BJP is not a recent phenomenon. What is worrying, however, is its persistence over decades. These pundits never seem to acknowledge even the noteworthy successes of PM Modi. It takes only an objective analysis and a generous spirit to appreciate the pathbreaking and transformative governance under PM Narendra Modi. Whether it is achievements in infrastructure development, welfare initiatives like PMAY, or rural electrification through UJALA, it is inexplicable that Modi and the BJP are denied their rightful share of credit.

From the imaginatively conceptualised Mann ki Baat to People's Padma, there are many examples of creativity in governance, but no opposition leader or Left-liberal opinion-maker showed the magnanimity to appreciate this innovative thinking.

Several facts stand out, such as the significant increase in defence exports, which recently experienced a remarkable 10-fold jump. This exponential growth in exports is an encouraging development that helps to shift the balance in India's favor. The establishment of the global HQ of the International Solar Alliance in Gurugram is another success achieved under Modi's leadership. They achievements certainly deserve recognition transcending partisan approaches. Alas, in the case of our jaundiced opposition, magnanimity continues to be in short supply.

Against this backdrop, it is important to appreciate that the Karnataka verdict can't be construed as a rejection of PM Modi's mantra of Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas, Sab ka Vishwas and Sab ka Prayas. Since its inception, the BJP has been striving to be a party that represents the masses, and over time, it has succeeded. It's worth recalling that it was under the BJP government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee that an independent Tribal Development Ministry was established and the Social Welfare Ministry was renamed Social Justice Ministry. The term 'disability' was replaced by 'Divyang', reflecting a change in approach. Providing toilets to all households has made a big impact on improving the dignity and quality of life for rural women. Similarly, MUDRA loans have empowered many small business owners. The PM SVANidhi too has emerged as a lifeline for street vendors and hawkers - an important segment of our informal economy that was severely impacted during the Covid lockdown. The electoral reverses faced by the BJP in Karnataka shouldn't overshadow the value added by the government led by PM Modi to India's welfare governance.

Notably, the Sab Ka Saath approach is not rooted in the politics of appeasement. It is the BJP government that introduced 'Hunaar Haat' to support artisans from minority communities, and it is the same BJP that boldly eliminated religion-based quotas, honouring the vision of the makers of our Constitution. PM Modi has always insisted on empowerment rather than entitlement. He firmly believes by empowering marginalised sections of society, entitlement will naturally follow. The BJP's stance on the Hijab was distorted and misrepresented as preventing Muslim girls from receiving an education, despite the party's commitment to the principle of 'equality of all in the eyes of the law'.

It is worth noting that some extremist Islamic leaders are attempting to extract their pound of flesh from the Congress party and its upcoming government in Karnataka. The comments of Waqf Board Chief Shafi Sadi, insisting on a Muslim Deputy Chief Minister and specific ministries, have raised concerns. It is significant that Congress has, at least on record, not objected to the remarks. He has reportedly said: "...that 30 seats be given to us (to contest)... We got 15, and 9 Muslim candidates have won. In about 72 constituencies, the Congress won purely because of the Muslims. We, as a community, have given a lot to the Congress. Now it's time we get something in return. We want a Muslim Deputy Chief Minister and five ministers with good portfolios like Home, Revenue and Education. It's the responsibility of the Congress to thank us with this..."!

These statements are worrying. They smack of the pre-partition mindset of the Muslim League. It is almost like weaponising demography, strategising the spread of the population, and eventually enhancing one's political bargaining power. The Congress party can happily dig its own grave, but it cannot be allowed to endanger India's unity and integrity.

The BJP, as the world's largest and India's only truly national party with a well-organised structure, is aware of the challenges it faces post-Karnataka. That is why the BJP leadership and its cadres refrain from mudslinging or blame games. As Atal Bihari Vajpayee once said, failure is not something that would destabilise the BJP. He quoted a famous Hindi couplet that signifies the party's approach: "Kya haar mein kyaa jeet mein; kinchit nahin bhay bheet mein. Kartavya path par jo mile, yah bhi sahi, vah bhi sahi." This encapsulates the BJP's mindset as a party that acknowledges the long road ahead.

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe is former MP, Rajya Sabha and columnist, besides being President of Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.