If the Karnataka Assembly election results are anything to go by, it is time for shoddy governance, no matter from which political quarter, to make way for able and efficient systems. The BJP has been routed from the southern state, until now their only foothold south of Madhya Pradesh, and which they, erroneously enough, considered to be the ‘gateway’ to the non-Hindi belt of India. The BJP’s has been a humiliating defeat, with merely 40 seats, particularly because the ruling party has been reduced to fighting for a second place, instead of either forming the government or even the principal Opposition. The saffron party has tied with the HD Devegowda-led Janata Dal (Secular), suffering an incredible loss of about 70 seats from the last Assembly elections in 2008. This decimation of the ruling party is a stringent verdict on the BJP’s myriad deficiencies, including installing three chief ministers in a single term, as well as several corruption allegations, especially against the rebel former CM BS Yeddyurappa. Though media pundits have been holding the newly-formed KJP leader responsible for BJP’s fall from grace, the fact that he bagged only six seats is proof enough that his tearing himself away from his parent party was not the only reason why the BJP was dealt a death blow in Karnataka.
However, the Congress, which has been the chief beneficiary of the factionalism within the BJP, and has managed a splendid 121 out the 223 assembly seats, thus obtaining a simple majority and the green signal to form the government, must not take this sudden spate of good luck as reflective of the national mood. Parched by the blazing heat of corruption scams, especially the Coalgate and the most recent Railgate, which are, at present, in the process of being investigated, the Congress has been doused by a much-needed blessed shower of grace, and has been handed out a victory on a platter, without either deserving it or working towards it. The Karnataka elections were fought on local issues, and anti-incumbency played a decisive role in determining its outcome. The Congress must not fool itself that the state election verdict is either a certificate of acceptance of Rahul Gandhi as the brand ambassador of the party, or the rejection slip for Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial aspirations in the national political amphitheatre. Yet, the electoral results have also sent out a rather disturbing message for the public sphere – is corruption a non-issue with the voters now? While it is understandable that BJP in Karnataka was infested with manifold diseases of factionalism and could not form a stable government, and even saw the axed chief minister walking out from the party and forming a rival group, that the saffron party’s hardline stance on corruption allegations against Yeddyurappa boomeranged and brought down its sole citadel in the southern expanse of the country, does not bode well for the overall health of the political sector. In case Congress considers this as a signal sounding its victory in 2014, it could not be more mistaken.