NEW DELHI- The Congress victory in Karnataka has set a wake-up call for the BJP for all elections Including 2024 Lok Sabha polls to be held in the days to come.
The Karnataka victory has several lessons for the Congress in its battles ahead, with “collective fight” and “strong state leadership” among the factors that worked for the party.
The party won 136 seats and its performance was better than its tally in the 1999 election when it had won 132 seats and the 2013 polls when it won 122 seats. The Congress got 42. 9 per cent votes, among its highest in the state. It is also the highest vote share by any party in the last 34 years which reduced the BJP to 65 seats.
With Opposition parties exploring a united front against the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress will seek to emerge as a pivot of such efforts.
Party leaders are already hitting back at BJP with a jibe of “BJP-mukt south India”.
Congress’ next challenge is assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana later this year and in three of these states, it has BJP as its main rival.
The Congress will also hope that BJP’s poor performance in Karnataka will adversely impact its prospects in Telangana where the ruling party at the Centre was seeking to emerge as a main player.
The BJP government in Karnataka faced anti-incumbency and the ground was ripe for Congress victory.
Congress leaders said that the people of Karnataka had rejected BJP leaders’ attempts to “polarise” the election. The BJP ran a high-pitched campaign and the Congress’ mention of a possible ban on Bajrang Dal in its manifesto was raised widely by BJP leaders through ‘Jai Bajrang Bali’ chants and slogans.
The ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also helped the Congress strengthen connect with people months ahead of polls.
Party leader Randeep Surjewala, who is AICC incharge of Karnataka, said the Congress won almost 85 per cent of the seats that Gandhi visited during his yatra. Rahul Gandhi was in the state for over 20 days in September-October last year.
The Congress’ big challenge is the 2024 battle and BJP has swept polls in states where the Congress had been in power.
Having suffered a string of losses after the 2019 Lok Sabha debacle, the party leaders are hopeful that the emphatic victory in Karnataka and the success in Himachal Pradesh earlier this year will pave the way for similar successes in state polls later this year.
With victory in Karnataka, Congress is in power in four states now.