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Congress needs to consolidate now

Congress needs to consolidate now
Highlights

The timehonoured adage United we stand, divided we fall has come true once again, this time in Karnataka The CongressJDS coalition has delivered a spectacular victory, winning three of the four Lok Sabha and the lone Assembly seat for which by elections were held recently and inflicting a crushing defeat on the BJP, in the processThe Congress is upbeat with the verdict It has described

The time-honoured adage - United we stand, divided we fall - has come true once again, this time in Karnataka. The Congress-JD(S) coalition has delivered a spectacular victory, winning three of the four Lok Sabha and the lone Assembly seat for which by elections were held recently and inflicting a crushing defeat on the BJP, in the process. The Congress is upbeat with the verdict. It has described it as Diwali gift from the people.

Heady with success in vanquishing BJP, it has described the coalition's unique victory as a teaser for the full-length film that would release next year. As far as BJP is concerned, the string of defeats it tasted in Karnataka is adding to the steady losses it has so far logged in after its spectacular victory in Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

After Narendra Modi took over as prime Minister in that year, 31 Lok Sabha by-elections have been held till now of which the saffron party has managed to win only six, including Shimoga in Karnataka on Tuesday. Of the 14 seats which it held at 2014 and for which by elections have been held, it had retained only six. The saffron party has not wrested any seat from the opposition in the last four years.

As far as Congress is concerned, Karnataka results are a silver lining to the dark clouds of despondency that had settled over it after 2014 debacle. But the turnaround has not come without a price. The Congress had to shed its veneer of big-brotherly attitude and declare that it did not mind playing a second fiddle in Karnataka after Assembly elections there five months ago.

When Kumaraswamy formed government with Congress support, it looked unusual - a large party supporting a small one - but it sent a signal that the Congress' innards had undergone a qualitative change. It no longer treated bantam political parties with an air of superciliousness. The result was that the Opposition unity appeared spot-on at Bengaluru, when all the leaders of non-BJP parties turned up to witness the anointment of Kumaraswamy as the chief minister of Karnataka.

In modern electoral warfare, leaders should watch out how they behave with people who no longer have the patience to put up with their arrogance. If BJP lost Bellary Lok Sabha seat, it was partly because of the insensible comments of Gali Janardhan Reddy who treated the constituency as his fiefdom. Reminiscing on his days in jail, he had said Siddaramaiah had lost his son because he had been separated from his children. The people sent home V Shantha, sister of Sriramulu who is an acolyte of Gali Janardhan Reddy. She lost the election to Congress' VS Vugrapppa with a huge margin of 2.4 lakh votes. Defeat in Bellary must have come a little hard on BJP's nose because it remained its pocket borough since 2004.

There could be no worse humiliation for BJP than its candidate in Ramnagara Assembly segment L Chandrasekhar returning to the Congress after filing nomination as BJP candidate. This has led to Kumaraswamy's wife Anitha winning the seat with a huge margin of 1.09 lakh votes. If the coalition’s winning streak has to continue in future, the Congress should avoid the temptation of exhibiting the streaks of hubris which is proving to be nemesis for BJP now. The Congress has to accommodate the regional parties ranged against the BJP in its scheme of things. If the Congress can walk an extra mile in being a little more generous to the BSP, TMC and NCP whose leaders have national ambitions, it could replicate Karnataka at national level.

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