For the first time in the history of Independent India, BJP is about to take power in a Southern State. It was always understood by all and sundry that BJP could never come to power in the South. Even BJP leaders of the South got themselves convinced over a period of time that they would never come to power on their own. In the past, BJP has dabbled with all kinds of alliances to make a footprint in the South – but was unsuccessful. It was given that BJP cannot win a majority in the South.
The myth is exploded now
In the recent elections held in Karnataka, BJP has won the majority and is about to form the government – completely on their own without any alliance. This is a historic event and would completely change the way BJP has looked at the South, the way political equations were formed at Center, and the way South has looked at BJP and other Hindu political outfits.
It has many implications.
BJP at Center
The BJP headquarters should celebrate this as a grand victory. Getting its footprint into South is one of BJP’s biggest achievements. It gives them a legitimacy that it suffered for a very long time. It was always regarded as unrepresentative of a great section of India – the South. Though it was targeting Hindu majority as its vote base, it had never received the mandate of the people in the South. That is all changed now.
BJP can once again anticipate coming to power at Center in the next elections. Not only that, they can now be aggressive on their Hindutva agenda- because it is clear that they don’t need to succumb to their allies in their NDA. They can be less dependent on their partners – unlike in the past during Vajpayee Government.
Congress at Center
Sonia Gandhi could not work any magic in Karnataka. Rahul Gandhi could not work magic either. Even in those places where they canvassed, Congress lost. All those ‘secular’ parties who saw the South to be impenetrable by BJP will now abandon their complacency.
Congress already lost few states in the recent past to BJP in the North. Now, they lost to BJP even in the South. Congress Party’s chances of winning at the Center in the next elections are becoming slim.
This also means much more idolization of Sonia Gandhi and her family. The more the Congress loses the more the loyalty towards the family increases – that’s how sycophancy works – because all the other independent minded leaders would then be reduced to a naught.
With the recent unfolding in the political scene in the country, Congress cannot hope to win in Andhra Pradesh. There is a great deal of negative sentiment against Congress party in Telangana because of the betrayal of Telangana cause. In the last elections, Congress formed an alliance with TRS promising people of Telangana their statehood if they come to power. And they came to power and formed the government in the state under Rajashekar Reddy, a strong opponent to creation of Telangana. Sonia Gandhi and her party went against their promise to create a new state upsetting people of Telangana. Unless Sonia grants statehood this time, Congress has no chances of winning in Telangana.
Meanwhile, in the Rest of Andhra Pradesh, there is a new threat. Chiranjeevi, the famous actor, is forming a new party and many existing political parties already know that he is going to make a big impact. Congress, unless it joins hands with Chiranjeevi, which seems to be quite a remote possibility, cannot win in Rest of Andhra.
Sonia Gandhi has to reevaluate her strategy vis-à-vis Andhra Pradesh. There is a good chance that Congress will announce creation of Telangana in a bid to win at least this region. And if so, that decision will come at a time close to the election to reap the maximum benefit out of that announcement.
Pan India Hindutva ideology
BJP and its Hindutva ideology is getting legitimacy in almost all regions of India, including the South. BJP and other Hindutva outfits can pat themselves on the back for creating the necessary atmosphere, and for benefiting from some of the recent events in the state and outside, in transforming themselves into a well-accepted political party in the South. Aiding them were other factors, such as extreme incompetence and petty politics of JDS and Congress in Karnataka, recent terrorist attacks in the state and outside, and the desperate need for development-focus.
In the recent past, Karnataka has seen a spurt in growth of regional chauvinism; and the fervor it has vitiated in the state is something which any fascist, nationalistic or communalistic party can ride on. There is a growing antipathy and animosity towards non-Kannadigas. Riots took place in different parts of Karnataka in which Hindus and Muslims were at loggerheads. This atmosphere is conducive for party like BJP to make its mark.
The prevailing mood has allowed these people of South to accept BJP as a legitimate party. The mood of Kannadigas is to have a change from the both JDS and Congress, and to have an increased sense of security of their regional and communal interests, which a party like BJP can easily promise to promote. Though Hindutva ideology is not really the critical factor for Kannadigas to vote BJP into power, that’s how BJP would like to position it in the Center – an approval of its Pan India Hindutva ideology.