Should Congress follow the BJP playbook after Karnataka debacle?

There’s a pertinent question staring all the Opposition parties, especially the Congress, in the eye – What makes the BJP so invincible? 

Published: 30th July 2019 01:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st July 2019 01:42 AM   |  A+A-

BS Yediyurappa took oath as the new chief minister of Karnataka on 26 July 2019. (Photo | PTI)

Online Desk

After several days of high-voltage drama and chaos, Karnataka BJP chief BS Yediyurappa was finally sworn-in as the chief minister of the state for the fourth time last week. The saffron party leader went on to successfully prove his majority during the floor test on Monday.

However, amid the entire hullabaloo, there’s a pertinent question staring all the Opposition parties, especially the Congress, in the eye – What makes the BJP so invincible? 

Karnataka is a case in point, with a flurry of rebel MLAs joining hands with BJP to bring the Congress-JDS government led by HD Kumaraswamy crashing down. 

Keeping the obvious allegations of poaching and horse-trading aside, there are several reasons for these lawmakers to join hands with the saffron party. Among them, first and foremost, is the simple fact that BJP is technically the only political party alive and kicking in India right now. The rest have all been decimated, or are waiting for their turn.  

BJP’s core strength lies in its power equation and clout among regional players. For several years, the party accepted its weak position in states where it had no foothold. Once it gained momentum, it would assiduously chip away at the rival party’s vote and talent base, expanding its own footprint, ultimately swallowing them like they never even existed. 

Not convinced? Read on.

Et tu, BJP?

Gujarat: In 1990, BJP’s 67 MLAs supported Janata Dal’s Chimanbhai Patel to form the government. BJP’s Keshubhai Patel became the deputy CM. It was only a matter of a few years for the Janata Dal to be blended into the BJP. Till this day, the saffron party remains the undisputed dominating force in Gujarat.

Goa: In 1999, BJP’s late Manohar Parrikar aligned with the Goa People’s Congress to stay afloat in the Konkan state. Parrikar then split with his partner and joined hands with the MGP to become the CM of Goa. 

Haryana: In 1982 and 1987, BJP formed an alliance with Devi Lal’s INLD. Not satisfied, it then hooked up with Bansi Lal’s Haryana Vikas Party. Unhappy still, the saffron party ping-ponged back to its former partner INLD. Fast forward to 2019, BJP is ruling Haryana with Manohar Lal Khattar as its CM. Meanwhile, INLD can’t be traced even by Carbon-14 dating.

Karnataka: In 2006, BJP and JD(S) became poll partners. In 2008, under the garb of the infamous ‘Operation Kamala’, it poached from both Congress and JD(S) to become the ruling party, making BS Yediyurappa the CM. Today, the BJP boasts the highest number of MPs from Karnataka. 

Assam: From 2001 to 2016, BJP rode piggyback on the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). Today, it is ruling Assam and has seven MPs from the state, whereas the AGP is spending time in the wilderness.

Maharashtra: Since 1995, Shiv Sena and BJP got along like a house on fire. However, they split before the 2014 elections – where the Sena was ruthlessly crushed by BJP. Today, they are still allies but it’s the saffron party which calls the shots in the state.

Odisha: From 1998 to 2009, BJP was pally with BJD to grow its clout in the state. However, in a dramatic turn of events, BJD dumped the saffron party which then went on a poaching spree. Today, it is seen as the single largest threat to the Naveen Patnaik-led party. Patnaik managed to retain his bastion in the state Assembly elections this year but he may find the going tougher next time.

Follow the beaten track?

Rahul Gandhi and other senior Congress leaders have a tried-and-tested recipe right in front of them. They have to wash the tough stains of defeat in states like Assam, UP, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, and Delhi where it has almost lost its clout. The path has been set by BJP - observe, wait patiently, and strategically poach when the time is right!

Perhaps, this is the only way for the Grand Old Party to reclaim its long lost glory on the regional turf. Now, if the Congress netas want to shirk the hard work required here, they always have the option of knocking on BJP’s door as the latter is intent on embracing all its former foes these days. We are living in a democracy after all. Aren’t we?
 

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