With the BJP emerging as a single largest party in Karnataka, its leaders described today’s assembly poll as an endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development agenda and claimed that the people have rejected ‘divisive, toxic and negative’ politics of the Congress.
The BJP has won 104 seats, while the Congress and the JD(S) have won 78 and 37 seats respectively.
The mood within BJP was upbeat during the initial hours of counting when it appeared to be heading to a comfortable majority, but the celebration turned a little somber when its final tally fell short of a majority and its rivals Congress and the JD(S) joined hands to stake claim to form a government.
The Congress and the JD(S) have together 115 seats, three more than the magic figure of 112. However, BJP leaders expressed confidence that they will be able to cobble up a majority.
With the Congress’ tally coming down drastically from 122 in 2013, union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took a swipe at Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying someone was dreaming of becoming the prime minister, a reference to Gandhi’s statement during the poll campaign that he was ready for the top post if his party won the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Prasad’s cabinet colleague Nirmala Sitharaman said it was a historic day for the BJP and the results were an endorsement of Modi’s development agenda.
“The people have rejected the divisive, toxic and negative politics of the Congress”, she added.
Another union minister Nitin Gadkari hailed BJP’s performance in the southern state and said it proved that the saffron party’s ‘Congress-free India’ slogan was turning out to be true.
“We had been talking about a Congress-free India. The Karnataka poll results are virtually proving that. The Congress is not in power in any of the key states, barring Punjab. The condition of the Congress is such that it is opposing (the BJP) for the sake of opposing,” he added.
Stating that the poll results underlined the faith of the people in Modi’s leadership and the BJPs ideology, Gadkari exuded confidence that the party would retain power at the centre after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The former BJP president said the Congress was on the verge of collapsing, with its stature reduced to that of a regional party, and that Rahul Gandhi was relentlessly working to realise the wish of Mahatma Gandhi that it be dissolved.
“The Congress is on the verge of a collapse. I feel Rahul Gandhi is working to realise the wish of Mahatma Gandhi that the Congress party should be dissolved.Under his leadership, the party is headed towards that direction,” he told PTI.
Taking a jibe at the Congress chief, Gadkari said what Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi could not do, was done by Rahul Gandhi and the mandate of the people of Karnataka in favour of the BJP showed that they had no faith in the Congress party.
“It is a clear mandate in favour of the development politics of the Narendra Modi government, which is bound to come back to power with a thumping majority in the 2019 election,” he said.
On electronic voting machines (EVMs), the senior BJP leader quipped,”When they (Congress) win in Punjab, the EVMs function well, but when they lose in Karnataka, the same EVMs start malfunctioning, which is paradoxical.”
He said a poll victory or defeat were two facets of the same coin in a democracy and stressed that a victory should be celebrated with full humility, while a defeat should be accepted gracefully.
Prakash Javadekar, another union minister who was also the BJP in-charge for the Karnataka election, said the saffron party performed better than the Congress as it was a “party of the masses”, while the latter was a “party of dynasts”.
“This is a victory of Modi and party president Amit Shah’s strategy,” he added.
Polling for the 222 of the 224 Assembly seats in Karnataka was held on May 12.
Polling for the R R Nagar seat was deferred on account of alleged electoral malpractices, while it was countermanded in the Jayanagar seat, following the death of the BJP candidate.