New Delhi, May 14: Every election these days seems to be a verdict on 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The party that wins Karnataka will form the next government in Delhi, the party that loses Rajasthan will be voted out of power in Delhi — such over arching statements from political pundits on television and social media without a clear causal link seems farfetched to say the least.
Admittedly, each state election is important as state governments form a very important cog in India’s federal polity and as such, who is voted in or out of power in any state makes a huge impact on the life of the people in that state. But instead of seeing the Karnataka elections for what they are, we’re happily branding it as the semi-finals to 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
It has been proved historically that assembly election results may or may not convert into Lok Sabha results and vice versa. Had the arithmetic been that simple and additive, Gujarat wouldn’t have proved to be such a debacle for the BJP last year. 2014 Lok Sabha results would have made ‘Mission-150’ a cinch. Instead, the BJP managed just 99 seats proving that having all the MPs from a state may not necessarily mean an easy run in the state polls.
Conversely, in 2014, in the aftermath of a two-month AAP government in Delhi the BJP won all 7 Lok Sabha seats from the city. In 2013 assembly elections, the BJP had won just 32 seats and failed to get a majority. In elections held in 2015, AAP won 67 of Delhi 70 seats. So the rub off doesn’t always seem to work, does it?
I fail to understand why every political analyst worth their salt seems to think that the three and a half crore voters in Karnataka have indulged in an exercise of clairvoyance and voted for or against the Narendra Modi government at the centre for 2019. Surely that vote is yet to happen, and while the centre’s policies and programmes may affect the fortunes of the BJP in the state, these polls are also a verdict on how the present Siddaramaiah-led Congress government has functioned in the state.
In a recent survey, 57% of Indians have said that the Narendra Modi government has ‘met or exceeded their expectations’ in the last 4 years. The LocalCricles survey indicated that most Indians were happy with how the government has performed on fighting terrorism, improving India’s image globally, handling Pakistan and infrastructure development — all issues of national importance that may give Prime Minister Modi a second term in 2019.
However, not many of these issues would be on top of the mind recall in some of Karnataka’s bellwether constituencies such as Shirahati or Yellburga. Throughout the campaign, issues of Kannada pride or water woes in the state or agrarian crisis in the rural hinterland have dominated then discourse. People in Bengaluru have brought up the urban decay in the capital and the city’s near-legendary potholes. It was also recognised by all the main political parties who promised significant swathes of money to irrigation projects and relief for the rural population in their manifestoes.
So while we stir a storm in our teacups and look to dabble in some crystal-ball gazing for the Lok Sabha elections, the Karnataka elections are an election for 224 lawmakers in the state who’ll be elected on and held to their performance at a local level, not how they shore up their parties for 2019. There will always be a couple of thousand kilometres to traverse between Delhi and Davangere.
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