Karnataka : No full stops in politics, ever

This afternoon B S Yeddyurappa spoke on the floor of Karnataka’s Vidhana Soudha with tears in his eyes. As those who had been defeated in the people’s court looked on, hungrily waiting to devour the mandate. They couldn’t beat him one on one. He shook their foundations, reducing the erstwhile ruling party to a whimpering support dog.

The Congress doesn’t mind eating last, eating the scraps and leftovers, as long it has something to eat.

There is a reason the BJP wanted the proceedings of the floor test telecast live. Perhaps, both by design and by accident, the grand old man of the Karnataka BJP is delivering the all too familiar Vajpayee moment for BJP in the state.

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“Hum sankhyabal ke saamne sir jhukate hain aur aapko vishwas dilate hain ki jo karya humne apne haath mein liya hai, wo jab tak rashtra ke uddyeshya mein poora nahin kar lenge, tab tak vishram se nahin baithenge…”

Which BJP supporter can forget these words?

Who can forget the delight of the Congress when these words were uttered? But the Congress would do well to remind themselves of all the water that has flowed down the Ganga since that day and ask: who has really grown in strength since that day?

Just a reminder in the immediate context of Karnataka. At that time, the BJP was by far the third force in Karnataka, with just 17% of the vote in the state. Today, Congress is hoping to play second fiddle to JDS to keep BJP out of power in the same Assembly.

When Atalji handed in that resignation, would you believe that the Congress had its own majority and its own Chief Minister in Odisha? Seems surreal….even unreal today, does it not? There was a day when Congress could actually have a Chief Minister in Odisha; today it would be lucky to save deposits.

In those days, the Congress used to be the main opposition in West Bengal. Today the Congress teams up with the CPI(M) not for power in Bengal but hoping that their combined strength can prevent BJP from becoming the main opposition. From trying to form the government to forming a coalition to have a chance of forming the opposition…

Believe it or not, the Congress used to win seats even in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in those days. In fact, it would even aim for a majority. Others who fell short of a majority would woo the Congress MLAs and get them to defect. Today, the Congress trails the Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP meanwhile has grown from strength to strength. It has broken down nearly every demographic barrier that political pundits imagined would stop its relentless march. They tried to get a Brahmin-Baniya tag to stick to the BJP. The BJP kept its Brahmin-Baniya votes and went out and got itself OBC and Dalit votes.

And for good measure, the BJP now dominates the two tribal states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

They said BJP was a North Indian party, today the BJP has secured the North East and is the largest party in Karnataka and Maharashtra. In the East, Mamata Banerjee is running scared of the BJP’s rising tide. So is Naveen Patnaik in Odisha.

The day Atalji handed in that resignation in 1996, the Congress Party which had forever won power on its own, also gave up all hope of ever winning its own majority again. That day Atalji couldn’t find enough allies. Today Modi does not need allies to control the Lok Sabha. Today it is the Congress that scrounges for allies, while the BJP hunts on its own.

With today’s floor test, the Congress has consigned itself to second fiddle in one more state. It is now a footmat for a regional party.  It will never win a majority in Karnataka again.

In the months and years to come, this is a scene that you may see repeated. Perhaps you will see the BJP fall 10 seats short in Bengal, or 5 seats short in Odisha or Kerala. Some BJP leader in Bengal or Odisha will be standing where Yeddyurappa is standing today.

You will see all manner of alliances … a CPIM+Cong+TMC Mahagathbandhan in Bengal, a CPIM+Cong Mahagathbandhan in Kerala and a BJD+Cong Mahagathbandhan in Odisha.

The show will go on, with no full stops anywhere. But the forward march of the BJP shall continue. No force in the world can stop an idea whose moment has come.

To all my BJP supporter friends who might be disappointed today, I say do not worry. Cheer up because they have clearly surrendered the future to us. Rahul Gandhi is already the least successful of all the Congress dynasts. His grandmother used to dismiss nine state governments at a time. Her grandson goes around with his MLAs, offering to be footmat of some regional party. Over the next several years, we shall witness the complete and utter humiliation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. The dream is not far now.

Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.

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