What is Karnataka's political crisis

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The Congress Party (Indian National Congress, INC) slipped from their 132 state parliament mandates to 65. 31 of the 49 INC ministers who ran for re-election lost their mandate. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cleverly used the mood against the congressional government and almost doubled its own share of the vote from 44 to 79 seats. With its best result in Karnataka, the BJP will in future form the strongest faction within the Vidhan Sabha. Janata Dal - United (JD U), who is allied with the BJP, won five mandates.

The third largest parliamentary group is the Janata Dal - Secular (JD S) with 58 seats. This is an enormous gain from the previous 10 representatives. The Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI M) who Republican Party of India and the regional parties Kannada Nadu Paksha and the Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha each won a mandate in the chamber. In the future, 13 independent delegates will also belong to the Vidhan Sabha.

According to the INC's own representation, the party was only able to gain 35 percent instead of 41 percent, the BJP 29 percent and the JD (S) 20 percent (the electoral commission did not collect any data on this).

While the INC's share of the vote declined in all regions except Bangalore, the BJP succeeded in gaining votes, especially in the north and on the coast of Karnataka. Especially from the maritime region there were reports of increased activities of the network of Hindu nationalist organizations known as Sangh Parivar. The Sangh activists succeeded, apparently very successfully, in polarizing society along religious lines. In the north, however, the BJP, which stood up as the "Party of the Hindus", owed its success much more to the arrangement of seats with the JD (U). Janata Dal - United still has a considerably large number of regular voters in this region, which he knew how to use profitably in combination with the anti-INC mood.

The actual success story of the elections, however, was written by the JD (S), who rose from the ashes like a phoenix. Most observers have written off the party after its devastating election failure in 1999. Obviously, she managed to successfully reconsolidate her regular electorate - mainly in the south of the Union state - in the past few months. Some veteran leaders have been co-opted or returned to their ranks.

As in Andhra Pradesh, the electoral mandates were given to act against a one-sided urban policy and the economic reform catalog in the spirit of the World Bank. This confirmed that it is not enough for most voters to lead Karnataka to a nationwide pioneering role in the information technology and biotechnology sectors. In addition, in three of the five years in office of Congress (I), the state suffered from drought, which politically was only met half-heartedly. Similar to neighboring Andhra Pradesh, according to government reports, more than 650 farmers killed themselves in desperation over their hopeless financial situation last year alone. The government made few concessions and thus barely counteracted the increasing rural exodus. At the same time, water scarcity increased in rural areas and cities.

Government formation

A coalition government between the JD (S) and the BJP is not a possible option for the secular secession wing of Janata Dal. Rather, it was decided at a party executive meeting of the JD (S) on May 16 in Bangalore to wait for the formation of a government in New Delhi before the national party president and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda sat down with Sonia Gandhi on a possible joint government formation in Bangalore.

In the meantime, various theoretical coalition possibilities have been explored and models such as those in Maharashtra or Jammu & Kashmir have been considered. In neighboring Maharashtra, the ministerial posts are proportionally distributed and in the crisis state of Jammu & Kashmir, the term of office is shared between the coalition partners.

Despite all reservations and the political contradictions between Congress (I) and the JD (S), a government formation between the two is generally expected, which together would come to a majority of 123 mandates.

Vajpayee's hopes were based on Karnataka

Karnataka was perhaps the only state that gave the BJP serious reason to hope for a victory in the elections to the Indian parliament, the Lok Sabha.

In fact, the Hindu Nationalist Party won 18 of the 28 seats available. The Congress (I) received eight and the Janata Dal (S) two mandates for New Delhi. The fact that the congress party received less than half of the BJP Lok Sabha mandates despite a higher percentage of the vote is due to the fact that the BJP and its ally JD (U) had already cleverly agreed to vote in advance. Congress (I) was only able to defend seven of its 16 seats.

Whether a wave of sympathy for the BJP Prime Minister Vajpayee was the main reason for the success of his party in the southern Indian city of Karnataka can only be speculated. In view of the severe losses in the southern and eastern parts of the country, such an argument was lacking a convincing basis. Rather, it seems to have been decisive that the BJP was able to politically instrumentalize the general low mood and displeasure about the government in Bangalore. The fragmentation of the Janata Dal and the resulting power vacuum is also a major cause of the rise of Hindu nationalists in some regions of Karnataka.