The BJP may have lost Karnataka, but the real losers in this whole roller coaster ride are really the BJP’s loyal supporters.
There are lots of questions that are worth asking about the Karnataka saga. How was the BJP so confident about proving its majority in a floor test? Especially when their opponents’ alliance (the JD(S) and Congress) clearly had more support in numbers. There are many possible answers like ‘Some MLAs were unhappy with the alliance’ or thought it was opportunistic, maybe some wanted to vote on the basis of their conscience since the BJP had the largest number of seats. But, at the end of the day, it all came down to openly horse-trading MLAs as the BJP tried to poach MLAs to vote in its favour for the floor test.
The Congress released six audio tapes of conversations in which BJP leaders, including Yeddyurappa, were heard offering bribes to MLAs from opposition parties. (It’s important to note, however, that the authenticity of these tapes still needs to be proven.) To anyone who follows Indian politics closely, it was very clear that the BJP didn’t have a morally acceptable option for winning Karnataka. The party was in a position where it would necessarily contradict its own actions.
Such actions from the Congress would have (rightly) invited mass criticism, but so many BJP supporters stood by their party’s actions, instead of questioning such egregious actions.
The fight against corruption
This is one of the main reasons why BJP supporters are loyal to the party. The Congress is seen as the face of corruption, even though the BJP too has several members with corruption charges against them. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image and famous quote, ‘Na khaoonga, na khaane doonga’ (I won’t accept bribes, nor will I let anyone else) was enough to earn supporters’ belief. Everything that just happened in Karnataka should serve as a reality check.
Yet, loyalists supported this horse-trading of MLAs, only to see their party in power. As I argued with an acquaintance about the BJP’s actions, he defended the party, saying, “Khareede honge bhai lekin ek baat batao, bike kyun?” (The party might have bought MLAs, but why did they accept the money?” So much for being against corruption. Is it acceptable if it’s done by the BJP? Instead, the party’s supporters should be questioning the BJP’s actions and asking where the party got such large amounts of money in the first place.
The constitution can take a walk
The second, and most important take-away from this episode is the BJP’s complete disregard for the constitution. Vajubhai Vala, Karnataka’s governor, acted more like a BJP party worker than a neutral constitutional authority by giving the BJP 15 days to prove its majority. Constitutional posts have taken a serious hit under this government, and such abuse of power is only the latest in a long list of worrying behaviour. This too went unquestioned by BJP supporters.
The Congress’ past actions are an excuse for the BJP’s present actions
This is the lamest excuse that was trotted out to defend the BJP’s misadventure in Karnataka. Several people cited the Congress’ abuses of power in the 1980s, 1990s and during the Emergency to justify the BJP’s methods. As if the Congress’ wrongdoings justify the same from the BJP.
Instead of holding the BJP accountable, people tried to justify their mistakes.
They don’t care about the nation
Nationalism is supposed to be BJP supporters’ forte. But for them, India is a nation based on Hindutva ideology, not on the constitution. As evident from this complete episode, morality and constitutional ethics were the last things they were worried about. Instead of questioning the BJP’s tactics for ‘managing’ MLAs, they were ready to support corruption.
I used to be a fierce Congress supporter and admirer of Manmohan Singh when UPA I was in power. However, I stopped believing in the party when UPA II was mired in so many corruption related scandals. While I do not support the BJP because of its Hindutva-based agenda, I was hopeful that the party would keep its promise of tackling corruption.
But the way BJP supporters refuse to question the government and the party, and try to justify their every move, however wrong, makes me think the BJP has just become the ‘other Congress’. Let’s just hope that better sense prevails and such ardent supporters realise that in the end, they owe their allegiance to this country, not a particular party or person.
Ayush Dubey is a 24-year-old web developer and aspiring journalist in Pune.
Featured image credit: PTI