Timber companies in cameroon The Congress’ decisive victory in Karnataka has given the much-needed “booster dose” to the party and proven that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the politics of divisiveness and polarisation can be defeated, senior party leader Jairam Ramesh said on Saturday. “The prime minister thought he had a conch which was ‘anantavijayam’ like that of Yudhisthira in the ‘Mahabharata’. This election has proved the prime minister can be defeated and that he is not ‘anantavijayam’ (forever victorious),” he said.
In an interview to PTI after the Congress staged an emphatic comeback in the only southern state governed by the BJP, he said the people of Karnataka have given a clear mandate against the prime minister.
“It is a decisive mandate for the Congress and an overwhelming vote against the prime minister and not just the BJP, because the architect of BJP’s campaign was the prime minister.
“It was the prime minister’s road shows, the prime minister’s speeches, the prime minister’s video messages. It was PM, PM and PM. The campaign of the BJP in Karnataka was of the PM, by the PM and for the PM and all those three have been rejected,” Ramesh told PTI.
The Congress leader asserted that the BJP’s defeat is very significant because Karnataka is a laboratory for its communal polarisation and Hindutva politics.
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“It is a laboratory of divisive and polarising politics and they have been rejected by a huge margin. The politics of divisiveness and polarisation has been defeated and that is the main message of Karnataka elections,” Ramesh said.
The Congress returned to power on its own in Karnataka after 10 years, knocking the BJP off its only southern perch on Saturday as voters decisively backed the grand old party desperately seeking electoral revival ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The party won 134 seats and was leading in two more of the 224 assembly seats in the state.
Ramesh said, “This election has come as a booster dose for us and has helped strengthen our confidence. This decisive victory shows that if we work with a positive agenda, with a strategy and unitedly then no one can defeat the Congress. The Congress is not just the past but is also the future.”
Asked if the Karnataka verdict was a failure of the prime minister, he said, “absolutely”.
On whether it is a referendum on the prime minister, he said, “We did not make it a referendum on the prime minister. I have been at pains to say that this is not a referendum on the prime minister, this is a fight for the engine in Bengaluru.”
“But it is the BJP, Mr (J P) Nadda who first said that if you vote for the Congress you will not get the ‘ashirwaad’ of the prime minister, then it was the prime minister who said ‘if you vote for me Karnataka will become a superpower’, then Amit Shah said ‘if you vote for the Congress you will get communal riots’. Who made Mr Modi the issue. It was the BJP, they had nothing else,” he added.
The Congress general secretary, who hails from Karnataka, said the BJP had no local face and no local leader and they made the PM the “be-all and end-all” of that campaign.
Ramesh said the Congress strategy in Karnataka was very clear from the time of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in October that covered seven districts and 21 assembly constituencies in 23 days.
From that day, he said, the Congress organisation has been united, there was a sense of solidarity in the organisation, followed by unveiling of a positive programme of the five guarantees and various programmes for farmers, women, the youth and different sections of society, that helped the party emerge victorious.
“The ’40 per cent commission Sarkara’ was perhaps the most visible campaign to remove the BJP. But it was not just a negative campaign, it was a positive campaign to vote for the Congress for the five guarantees, bring the engine in Bengaluru for economic growth and social harmony. These messages have really resonated across the state in regions which have traditionally been considered BJP strongholds,” he said.
The Congress general secretary was referring to the five guarantees given by the party to be implemented as soon as it formed the government in Karnataka.
These are 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti), Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to woman heads of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), 10 kg of rice free to every member of BPL households (Anna Bhagya), Rs 3,000 every month for unemployed graduate youths and Rs 1,500 for unemployed diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) for two years (Yuva Nidhi), and free travel for women in public transport buses (Shakti).
Ramesh gave the example of Chikamagalur, which elected Indira Gandhi in 1978 and where he was born. “It has been a BJP bastion for the last 35 years and we have breached that bastion.”
On what this win means for the Congress going forward, Ramesh said, “I get neither excited or depressed with this, as you have to take it in the stride. We have lost Jalandhar, I am worried that we lost Jalandhar (Lok Sabha bypoll in Punjab). We lost Jalandhar because of the superior money power of the Aam Aadmi Party which was at play. It was a seat which was held by the Congress as the MP died unfortunately.”
Ramesh said Karnataka is a decisive victory for the Congress, but the party has a long way to go as many assembly elections like that in Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and Mizoram are approaching.
“Before we talk of 2024, we have a large number of state elections,” he noted, asserting that this election is bound to have an effect in state elections.
“This election will create an atmosphere and it gives confidence to the party organisation,” he said.
Ramesh also credited the Bharat Jodo Yatra in shaping the victory of the Congress, saying the its major impact was to infuse life into the Congress party.
“It gave a sanjeevani to the Congress party and gave new enthusiasm to the workers and the party. The leaders were also united. When you have energy of th workers combined with the unity of leaders, we can look forward to more such victories of the Karnataka variety,” he said.
Noting that liberals and right-wingers have already written obituaries of the Congress, he said, their favourite pastime has been to write obituaries of the Congress, but they will always prove premature.
“It certainly infuses confidence in the party workers and gives them a huge psychological boost,” the Congress chief whip in Rajya Sabha said.