Elections are great myth-busters, for when people vote, they often make political pundits and their theories irrelevant. The recent elections to 105 urban local bodies in Karnataka proved that. It was widely proclaimed that the Congress is on the decline in Karnataka and an alliance with the JD(S) is going to weaken the party further.
The fact is that the Congress won 982 of the 2,662 seats up for grabs—only slightly more than its rival BJP, which won 929 seats, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The result may or may not have any bearing on the coming general elections, but it does prove that the Congress is still in contention, and if its alliance with the JD(S) continues, the two together can make it very difficult for the BJP to repeat—forget better—its 2014 performance (17 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats) in the state.
In terms of the sheer number of seats won, there isn’t much to differentiate between the Congress and the BJP. But, the result can be considered positive from the Congress perspective for two reasons. One, the party fared poorly in the Assembly elections held just three months back, finishing second to the BJP. Many of its ministers failed to get reelected. Two, the August 31 elections were held in urban centres, a traditional stronghold of the BJP. The local body elections were a reality check for parties ahead of the parliamentary polls.
The task is now cut out for the BJP. The party will do well to introspect why it is losing ground where it should actually be gaining—especially in a situation where the state is being ruled by a messy coalition. The Congress, too, cannot afford to sit back and relax if it wants to extend the gains to the coming elections. It will be too much of a stretch to extrapolate the results of a civic body election to a larger national election. But, what the return of the Congress indicates is that the state is going to witness yet another interesting contest come the summer of 2019.