By S. Sivathasan –
“When a monarch sets out to rule his subjects, he needs to ensure that no harm befalls his people, through his acts of omission or commission, by his retinue, by brigands or by wild life” ~ Sekkizhaar.
The author was the Poet who wrote Periyapuranam in verse form. He was born in a suburb of Chennai and was a contemporary of King Kulothunga Cholan II. He appointed him Prime Minister on account of his talents and he became conversant with the duties and responsibilities of a monarch. The lines quoted above shape the tenor of governance of present-day Prime Ministers of India.
Such works, many more in Indian languages and most strikingly speeches and writings of Swami Vivekananda, had a comprehensive sweep over the obligations of Kingship. Now nearing a quarter century in the public eye, Narendranath Modi nurtured in the state of Gujarat for three terms and the polity of India for almost a decade is very much on the world stage. He has risen to great heights of amiability, leadership and acceptance. At present he is poised for leading the nation for the third term. At this point of preparedness, Karnataka one of the larger states of India ventures to meet his challenge of leadership.
Any state government to stand on firm ground, should have an absolute majority. In Karnataka it is 112 plus. BJP in 2013 had only 104 seats. It was by forging a post-election-coalition that BJP was able to pull through till now. For the ensuing term till May 2028, the winning party should have a majority of seats and ideally of votes as well. Will such a situation crop up? Let us examine theory and practice in the recent past.
Nehru and the Banyan Tree
In the sixties, Sanjeeva Reddy the President of the INC said that Nehru was like a large banyan tree giving shade to all, but nothing could grow under it! Two years subsequently, the more perceptive Indira Gandhi asserted that it was true that shelter was given to everybody but everything grew beneath it.
Now what is happening to the tree? The roots have rotted away, the branches are dead and even the grass roots are not to be seen. The decision now is to destroy the tree root and branch. Sixty (60) branches are already lopped off, fresh ones grafted and new shoots are visible. The trunk showing no life is facing the chain saw. Cavity for the wedge is cut and sledge hammer blows are being dealt. The crash is expected on 10th May. Great Expectations for BJP and Karnataka till 13th.
Political Leadership of BJP
What is a political leadership for, if it cannot capture power at an election? Be it national, state or a constituency. At the helm is Narendra Modi whose primacy is unquestioned. From micro management at booth level to collation at state and national levels is Home Minister Amit Shah. He is strong minded and feared by the party electoral machinery. The National President pulling all the strings together is Nadda whose strong hand is easily seen.
The fourth is little known and less seen. Though totally self-effacing he has complete trust and confidence of the top three. He is BL Santhosh looking 50+ in age. He hails from a Brahmin family and has an engineering degree in Instrumentation Technology. An initiate with RSS, he states his profession as politician. In 1993 he formally entered active politics and from 2019 holds the high position of General Secretary, Organization at the national level.
State election in Karnataka is only 10 days ahead. Yet in an environment that is admittedly volatile, changes by the day are visible now and will be patently clear by the hour in the next few days. The Congress started wilting, its hopes tilting and campaign sagging by 26th April. This state is large and prosperous.
The parties in power, from 1947 to 2018 were Congress and JDS. There was a water project under implementation for 7 decades and only16% benefited. Another major project – a suburban rail project, pending for 40 years is now under implementation for 4 years. It has a central grant of Rs 53 billion and a state contribution of Rs20 billion. Hon. Tejasvi, MP stated this. Bangalore-Mysuru Highway is a completed one. A major highway project under implementation is a 6 & 8 lane highway, Bangalore through Andhra to Tamil Nadu and scheduled for completion in 2024.
BJP having had a single term prates about the scoring points of incumbency. It has had its BJP in position at the centre and now trumpets the advantages of a double engine governance. It would mean the state marching in tandem when Delhi sets the pace particularly with central resources. To garner the benefits of such a situation, BJP is throwing a do or die challenge at its adversary the Congress. The tide which has turned is escalating.
Sagacity and Verve to Win
What is crucial at this juncture is steering Karnataka to assured victory. The correct man at the correct place is the mantra. The top leadership in its wisdom has picked up K. Annamalai, BJP President of Tamil Nadu as the best buttress. It is correctly judged that he would take forward the efforts already in place in Karnataka. Responsibility for hard work and success is placed on his shoulders in as many as 86 seats or 38% of the total. Politicians of Karnataka take responsibility for the balance 138 seats. Modi has arranged for senior ministers of the cabinet, some Chief Ministers and noted personalities, 40 in all to tour the state and secure victory for BJP. Annamalai fresh with his lead role in Tamil Nadu is active in Karnataka for an assured triumph.
Modi’s Pragmatism and Aura
Even as Modi’s reputation grew on his great successes as Chief Minister of Gujarat, his aura also grew. What next? He got launched into the national challenge. How much he was prepared for it took no time to be known. His acumen for organization, particularly selection of personnel of the highest calibre astonished India and the outside world. From Arun Jaitley in 2014 to Ashwin Vaishnaw two years ago, baffles us on his selections to the cabinet. Picking Annamalai to lead Tamil Nadu and assigning him extra-territorially to Karnataka to steer elections in 86 electorates is a first in capacity management.
For his first Lok Sabha elections he identified the most potent medium to reach the largest audience. The absolute majority of 272 was the measure of success. For the second one he recognized social media to be having the best leverage. His judgement was rewarded with 303 seats. My forecast was 304 seats. For the2024 election, my forecast in May 2019 was 400 plus. I have not resiled from it even once.
Modi has been on a winning streak in Gujarat thrice and India twice. To term it “Modi Magic” for the third one is to use a hackneyed phrase. What was developing in recent years was “Charisma Build-Up”. It is now in full bloom. “Charismatic Modi” is the appellation. Recognizing it, Modi has opted for lengthy ‘Road Shows’. The exultation the voting public exhibit and the adulation they convey cannot be lost on anybody. The most recent ones in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka speak in figures. For the charisma alone 3-4% advantage for BJP.
No more calculations are needed for a BJP victory in Karnataka. Explicit statistics need only nine more days!