With trends for most seats available in the 223-seat Karnataka assembly, two trends are obvious—both of which hold out a lesson for the two national parties in the fray.
First, it has been a resounding defeat for the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). A loss was not unexpected, but the margin of defeat and its possible relegation to the third spot in the final results is a shocker.
Second, this massive loss of electoral support to the BJP has not accrued to the Congress. It has gained, but marginally; its strength in the House will go up from the existing 80 seats to around 110, but could end up tantalizingly below the half way mark.
This is very surprising, given that the BJP imploded and there was visible frustration among the electorate with poor governance (read corruption in public office). The fact that it has picked up only a fraction of the big electoral loss suffered by the BJP should be a wake-up call to the Congress party; at the least, it should not draw wrong lessons from its near victory in Karnataka.
It is still too early to figure what went through the electorate’s mind. But it won’t be too wrong to surmise that the Congress’s implosion at the national level must have influenced their mind in some way.
The lack of a clear verdict conveys that the electorate is not convinced and is wary about being served more of the business-as-usual approach. At the same time, the regional party, Janata Dal (Secular), hasn’t also emerged as the front-runner.
Clearly, there are sufficient lessons in the state’s electoral verdict for the two national parties. Neither can take the electorate for granted. And if indeed the Congress needs extra support to form the next government, then the message is that the electorate wants them to be on their toes and not on their heels.