Karnataka election results – an analysis. Suicide by BJP?

15 MAY 2023


We have evolved a management philosophy called Management by PICKSS that enables us to analyse topics belonging to different disciplines differently and unbiasedly. In PICKSS we say an event happens only if what we do coincides with where we do, who does it and when we do. The result of the event depends heavily on how well these parameters are chosen and performed.

We say all these parameters should not be all or many but selected few only; what I mean, taking what as an example is we should not do too many things but only a few key or critical chosen things to make an impact on the result. If we do too many things, results suffer, and resources get wasted.

Similarly, in the ‘where’ dimension, we must carefully select the place or be aware of the place where we do if we cannot select the place for any reason.

The same is true of the person we choose. But the factor when i.e., the timing of what we do is very critical. Let us apply these to the recent Karnataka elections and see to what extent BJP went by or violated these critical parameters.

What was done? Not done?

Emphasis on development.

Emphasis on Bajrang Dal to the extent of using it as a propaganda and slogan: Mixing up religion with politics crossing the red line.

Not convincingly answering 40% commission govt. of the incumbent BJP govt.

Bringing in too many new faces in candidate selection for making the party young and ready for the next generation.

Retiring veterans of the party who had a massive voter base, thus not irritating them individually but also the whole lot of electorate belonging to their caste.

Trying to replace caste-based system for winning elections to performance- based system.

Trying to make people vote irrespective of religious considerations and going only by the performance of the Govt. in serving the people.

These changes were all good in the long term for the Nation’s democracy, but they were too massive to be absorbed at one stroke by people who are essentially slow or only moderately fast in accepting changes.

The above was done strongly based on the following:

Not listening to the state’s BJP cadre except the ones that catered to the wishes of the party bosses.

Overconfidence of the top bosses driven by their successes to date across the nation and the number of states they are ruling.

Over-emphasis on the method they had evolved – in other words a BJP formula- to date for selecting candidates and for winning elections, forgetting they must be open to learn and change in every election, in every state and Centre even.

Where was done?

The development pitch did not have much effect as Karnataka was no. 2 state in the country in terms of development.

Bajrang Dal propaganda and slogan done indiscriminately, almost exhibiting religious extremism so the non- Hindu population was strongly motivated to be cautious in choosing to vote for BJP.

Retiring senior members of the party and not selecting them as candidates; not selecting people as candidates in areas where they had massive voter base and years of standing. Many people felt that this was arrogance on the part of the top leadership of BJP.

In Karnataka all the above was done. Karnataka had a history of anti-incumbency for over 35 years. The state selected for such bravado was wrong, considering the last Govt. in the state was BJP.

Who did these:

Primarily the top brass of the party, JP Nadda and Amit Shah and all others involved just pleased these two. Probably the genuine views from the state unit and people were not heard and even if heard, not internalized by the top brass. There was probably a democratic autocracy, the death-knell of well-run democracies. This is because even getting elected to such high positions within the party makes one an autocrat in practice.

When was all this done?

The timing was terrible and the worst of it of all: First, this was done simultaneously and not in steps with seriously considered priorities.

Secondly, all this was done in the state with a strong anti-incumbency history over 3 to 4 decades, and when the latest outgoing govt. in the state was BJP.

To summarise, too many changes were simultaneously introduced to the electorate used to gradual changes, in a wrong place, by the top rung of the party that was perceived as autocratic by state level bosses, and at a time when the latest govt. was BJP in a state where anti-incumbency was the norm.

Interestingly, the above analysis shows the BJP’s loss is its own doing – a kind of a suicide- as this would have happened irrespective of whatever congress did or did not do. The analysis of the election by the self- proclaimed political expert Yogendra Yadav that the template at Karnataka proves that Modi can be beaten merely exhibits his anti-Modi stance and hate towards Modi than anything else, as the same template would fail or will be highly ineffective if BJP learns lessons and changes a few things mentioned above, which it normally does. The so-called love vs hate and the yatra as contributing factor would have had, if at all, only a marginal Impact if BJP had not done the above blunders.

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