The Karnataka verdict was something that even the Bharatiya Janata Party did not expect. Through the campaign when the leaders in the BJP were asked what they expected in Karnataka they said, “for the public we say 18, but realistically we are expecting anything between 10 and 12.” Not very often does an off the record statement go wrong and in the case of Karnataka, the verdict has clearly surprised the BJP. The BJP looks like ending up 18 to 20 of the 28 seats.
The Congress was hoping to win big in Karnataka and were banking heavily on two factors -- the minority factor and also their performance in the assembly elections where they trounced the BJP.
Looking at the manner in which the results have gone, it becomes clear that there are some key factors that have worked in favour of the BJP. There has been a clear Narendra Modi wave in the state and as the Mysore BJP candidate, Prathap Simha had put it, “there will be an undercurrent on voting day and that will change the fortunes of the BJP.”
While the Modi factor has clearly worked in favour of the BJP, the other two aspects worth examining is the return of B S Yeddyurappa which helped bring in the majority Lingayat votes. The other is the Congress’ the complete misreading of the situation. In the 2013 elections the Congress had won the elections not because the people wanted them in power, but because the people were disgusted with the BJP. That was not a sentiment that the people had when it came to the Lok Sabha elections and it was clear that they were voting for Modi as prime minister.
The BJP in Karnataka which has very often been at war within put its act together and the strong message that came from Modi was that he wanted the BJP to be a united house. As was being expected none tried to cut into each other and the legendary rivalry between Ananth Kumar and Yeddyurappa was buried through the elections.
While the BJP managed to put its act together, the Congress has itself to blame for its performance. Siddaramaiah as a chief minister has shown no promise at all and there has been nothing that he can boast of. Ask any Siddaramaiah loyalist and he would request you to look at his case sympathetically. He was clearly not allowed to work by his own party colleagues as he is still viewed as an outsider by the Congress. Secondly right from day one, he had a sword above his head which threatened to drop on him if he lost the Lok Sabha elections. He was trying hard to save his seat and this led to him to rely heavily on appeasement and caste factors over development to win this election. Clearly it did not work for him.
Ananth Kumar wins Bangalore South: The Karnataka election was more about Bangalore South the high profile constituency from where Ananth Kumar has won over and over again. He was up against Nandan Nilekani. Ananth Kumar was in fact in a weak position at the start as he faced a major anti-incumbency threat. However Nandan had two major problems. He approached the elections on very local issues and moreover many would say he was in a party which was going to face the wrath of the nation. For Ananth Kumar he has none but Modi to thank. This constituency which houses a huge IT crowd all lean towards Modi and this helped him a great deal to win this prestigious battle.