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Posted at: May 16, 2018, 12:39 AM; last updated: May 16, 2018, 12:39 AM (IST)

The potboiler in Karnataka

Cong must make peace with existential foes
The potboiler in Karnataka
In this era of quick fixes and electronic results, it is rare for suspense over the elections to last long. The Karnataka trends in the morning pointed to a massive rejection of the Congress. As the haze cleared, unlike in Manipur and Goa, the Congress seized the initiative by sacrificing the CM's chair to turn around the game. The BJP, despite its mélange of conventional and the not-so-savory tricks that worked to perfection elsewhere, is scrambling to undo Sonia Gandhi offering the Chief Minister's chair to an eternal foe in the state. 

When the dust settles, the BJP has only PM Narendra Modi to thank for bringing the party so close to the winning post. Of the six regions that comprise Karnataka, the BJP won three, one each went to the JD (S) and the Congress while all three parties shared the honours in the sixth. But for Modi's whirlwind tours, calculated polarisation and his economy with facts, the BJP would not have made the gains it made in coastal and Bombay-Karnataka. In contrast, Rahul Gandhi was a constant presence but did not sufficiently move the masses to buck anti-incumbency. This is why the tactics of both parties need to diverge with just one year left for the general elections.

As various state elections have shown, PM Modi can still position himself as an outsider storming the Bastille even after four years of incumbency. The BJP can make do with fewer allies in 2019. Rahul in contrast has demonstrated his inability to make a substantial difference to the Congress kitty.  Karnataka has made it clear that the Congress will have to take the initiative to accommodate and adjust coalition partners for the great battle of 2019. And if it is to make the battle worthwhile, realpolitik dictates that it might have to make peace with existentialist enemies of the likes of the JD (S), the TMC and the AGP. Having taken the backseat to the SP and the RJD in UP and Bihar, the Karnataka results demand the Congress rework its electoral arithmetic in the south and the north-east. 

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