The Congress has registered a roaring victory over the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Karnataka elections, winning a total of 135 seats.
This victory also means the BJP is not present as a ruling government in any Southern India state, barring an alliance in the Union Territory of Puducherry.
The double engine sarkara rhetoric of the Bharatiya Janata Party seems to have lost momentum in Karnataka with the party facing a massive loss. Numbers show the party has registered wins only in 66 seats.
At third place is the Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)], leading in a 19 seats.
In addition to the party registering a victory, the two local faces - Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar also saw personal victories from the constituencies they were contesting from. Siddaramaiah, touted to be the next Chief Minister, led from the Varuna constituency with 1,19,816 votes as compared to 73,653 for BJP's V Somanna, according to Election Commission of India numbers. Shivakumar won the Kanakapura assembly with a huge margin of 1,23,270 votes. He garnered 1,43,023 votes compared to the 19,753 of BJP's R Ashok.
Current Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai conceded defeat and will be tendering in his resignation by Saturday night. Notably, Bommai won from the Shiggaon constituency by 35,978 votes, defeating Congress leader Pathan Yasir Ahmed Khan.
WHAT WORKED FOR THE CONGRESS?
The Congress win is largely being credited to three leaders of the party - Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar at the local level and Rahul Gandhi at the national level.
While Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar were accused of aiming towards opposite goals, the high anti-incumbency sentiment, well thought out strategies that included freebies, a clear focus on benefits for the female population of the state and talking about local issues helped the Congress decimate the BJP in the Karnataka polls.
The Rahul Gandhi led Bharat Jodo Yatra turned out to be the cherry on top of the cake for Congress. The Yatra which covered Kanyakumari to Kashmir, spanned a distance of over 500 kilometres in 22 days passing through several districts of Karnataka. The Yatra saw huge crowds walking with Gandhi and witnessed local karyakartas and leaders joining the march including Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar.
Gandhi in a calculated move, addressed the alleged animosity between the two leaders asking them to be present together and beat the traditional drum. Congress veteran Sonia Gandhi also joined her son in Mandya, receiving huge support from the local leaders.
While the Yatra gained great traction for Congress, reports suggest it also brought it together - paving the way for effective communication between the leaders sitting in Delhi, the State level leaders and the grassroot level members and making a dent in the 'dynasty politics' image of the party. Congress MP and communications head, Jairam Ramesh described the Yatra as a "Sanjeevni" for the party, bringing "a new wave of energy" amongst workers and supporters.
At the state level, Congress promised several freebies and schemes specifically aimed at women, girls and minorities. One of the most recent was the party's promise to reinstate the the four per cent reservations for minorities after the BJP removed it for Muslims in Karnataka. In addition, Congress also promised to increase the reservation quota for Scheduled Castes from 15 per cent to 17 per cent, for Scheduled Tribes from 3 per cent to 7 per cent and an increase in reservation for the Lingayat, Vokkaliggas and other communities.
BJP'S "DOUBLE ENGINE" SARKARA DERAILS IN KARNATAKA
On the other hand, the BJP campaign showed a heavy focus on the party’s top leadership. Similar to the 2018 state elections, the BJP brought out the whole cavalry for the fight. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held nearly 25 rallies in the state, with roadshows over two days in the capital of Bengaluru, Home Minister Amit Shah addressed several rallies including four road shows in a single day. Shah in one of the speeches also said that there would be riots in the state if Congress came to power.
Even Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, often referred to as the star campaigner for the BJP, was called in, for a whirlwind tour to gain voters attention.
The party unlike Congress, pushed the same two messages in its campaigns - the double engine sarkara and Hindutva politics. The regular phrase of double engine sarkara , which means the same party at the centre and state level, did not convince the state, which has had a history of rejecting incumbent leaders.
Additionally, the Hindutva politics, while appeasing its core followers, did not sit well with majority of the state. The state saw the passing of several pro Hindutva and anti minority laws including the anti-conversion law, the draconian anti-cattle slaughter law -- effectively turning a major minority vote bank against the party.
WHO WILL BE THE NEXT KARNATAKA CHIEF MINISTER?
As the party adjusts itself back to the governing seat in the Vidhana Soudha, it is yet to be seen who the Congress will announce as the chief minister.
Indian National Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge told mediapersons that a party meeting will be held on May 13 for the same. But party sources are already throwing in Siddaramaiah's name to wear the chief minister's hat.
The 75-year-old Siddaramaiah, hailing Mysore, served as the Karnataka chief minister from 2013 to 2018. Considered the party's most popular figure in the state, Siddaramaiah has been credited with reviving the AHINDA base for the Congress. AHINDA is an acronym standing for 'Alpasankhyataru' (Minorities), 'Hindulidavaru' (Backward Classes) and 'Dalitaru' (Dalits) votes or the dalit, OBC and Muslims which form a large part of the votes in Karnataka which has always had strong Dalit leaders including the present party head, Kharge. Siddaramaiah - himself hailing from the Kuruba community - has been a plus for the leader.
In contrast, DK Shivakumar, who is the Karnataka Congress chief won the hearts of the party leadership for stepping in and steering the ship after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Having faced several raids and arrests, Shivakumar has been applauded for staying strong and loyal to the party and organising a campaign that involved workers at the district and taluk levels.
Note: This story has been updated with the final vote tally