Sunday, June 01, 2008

Attempting to Restore the Secular Coalition to Power in Karnataka

Parvathi Menon and V.Sridhar do a good job of analyzing the Karnataka Assembly election results. Their tables provide good data to speculate that the Congress probably lost out narrowly in most segments of the state to the BJP. Yet, in the last two paragraphs, politics gets the better of analysis.

...The arithmetic of electoral politics poses the obvious question of an alliance between the two avowedly secular parties, the Congress and the JD(S). Such a coalition in the next Lok Sabha elections would result in the BJP being a distant second rather than the frontrunner that it imagines itself to be.

It is important that the Congress not take the JD(S) for granted in such an arrangement because the JD(S), despite being the weakest of the three main parties, retains almost one-fifth of the popular vote. This may not fetch it many seats if it is on its own. But a coalition with the Congress could dramatically change the political landscape in Karnataka.


They certainly seem to be exhorting the two parties to get into an electoral arrangement in the next election to defeat the BJP. While I generally believe that dispassionate analysis only gets undermined by mixing it up with partisan expectations, overlooking that aspect, one needs to ask if their expectation is realistic at all. From the numbers they show, the Congress and the JD(S) are engaged in tough competition in Southern Karnataka (more specifically, the Hassan-Mandya belt). There too, the Congress has a higher vote share than the JD(S) as things stand today. If an alliance ought to materialize, the Congress would have to concede a significant number of its seats there to the JD(S) and thereby essentially forego not only its current advantage locally but its hopes of ever dominating the region. The only reason that the Congress commands a vote share greater than the BJP is its relatively uniform presence all over the state. By giving up its hold over a particular region, that too to a fickle and unpredictable local ally, the Congress can virtually kiss goodbye to his hopes of ever returning to power on its own in the state. Karnataka will forever be consigned to two alternatives - either a BJP government alone as is the case today or a Congress-JD(S) coalition. The Congress leadership is smart enough to realize this which is exactly why they will not enter into such a ruinous arrangement anytime in the near future. It appears that Ms. Menon and Mr. Sridhar are simply deluding themselves about a prospect that does not exist.

10 comments:

Dirt Digger said...

Pilid,
Great analysis. Its a classic case of the sum of the parts being lesser than the whole. Election result mathematics in most cases gives a hindsight view.
From a coalition standpoint, Deve Gowda and his party have fought the Congress for decades. Just because Chindu hates the BJP's victory does not mean that HD will join hands with Krishna. Secondly from the BJP front any congress-JDS alliance would be heralded as a marriage of convenience to get the swing voters.
The inability of Chindu to provide a rational analysis without bringing in their own agenda is appalling

Anonymous said...

while Chindu goes to great length to prove an unnecessary point that the BJP should not take theiur leadership in the hustings for granted, it does precious little to confirm the fact tat the left is a total dodo and does not command any presence at all in the region (thank god for that). It is always the vitriolic against the BJP and any discomfiting news about the Commies (And therfore a good news)does not even merit a mention.

Even when they are reporting the BJP Party meet, they talk of bringing uniform civil code and abrogation of article 370, but to chindu it is bringing back the old hindutva issue. Also, Chindu finds it ironic when the party chief of BJP suggests that his part should be seen as a conduit for change by bringing in the youth to the fore by suggesting that their PM candidate is an octogenarian and therefore implying that it is not substantive and only rhetorical.

S.Thyagarajan

Anonymous said...

>> From the numbers they show, the Congress and the JD(S) are engaged in tough competition in Southern Karnataka (more specifically, the Hassan-Mandya belt). There too, the Congress has a higher vote share than the JD(S) as things stand today. >>

The Hindu wants the congress and JD-s votes to be added in all other regions (coastal, northern, and central). They fantasize that their votes in these regions will simply add up, and that will defeat the BJP. If that happens, and if bjp loses every single seat even with a 33% vote share, you wont hear any more about the 'quirks' of the first past the post system.

This whining of the 'first past the post' system started in secular circles on the day of counting itself. For some fine examples of this whining, see some posts in the churumuri dot wordpress dot com blog.

Anonymous said...

we may not like from time 2 time certain slants in news coverage in chindu but such analyses, detailed wth statsitcs, is only availabl in hindu oped pages. today you have great insights on narega, pakisthan and iraqi jews, in addition karnataka. plus article by MSS on food crisis and upcoming fao meet. really quality reading material.

sr said...

Chindu Chellas mend the analysis to arrive at the set results. Chindu is gleeing with joy on Cong being highest vote share (with less than 1% over BJP - not at all significant considering sampling error), conclusion drawn that BJP gained at the cost of Ind/Smaller parties. No talk on why such benefit not gone to other parties!

In the end the analysts assumed the role of well wishers for congress! They could very well recommend that the next election should be BJP vs Rest! Reason for alliance between Cong/JD(S) is, well, they are secular! Just for ammusement they could have worked out the Cong position, when BJP and JD(S) come together!!

Indirectly, this article takes a dig at the national party with a family leaders, it cannot win on its own!

With some prelim stats Chindu projected this a serious review but does not even meet the basic requirements for unbiased analysis.

Anonymous said...

When both Congress and JD(S) claim to be secular, there is no reason for their independent identity and existence. Even if Chindu failed/forgot to arrange for their marriage, at least now the Chief should initiate the preparations for a grand secular alliance using his secular standing.

socal said...

No one seems to look at the probable alliance from Devegowda's perspective. He gains little by way of alliance and he's winning in his stronghold despite the alliance. His leverage goes down if he enters any pre-poll alliance. For Devegowda, power trumps secularism. What does he gain by entering an alliance then? A few more seats and a permanent second-class status?!

Pilid said...

Thanks all for your comments. Socal, you are right that Deve Gowda might gain some additional seats in a prepoll alliance. But yes, he has calculated that it is preferable to remain independent and retain the leverage that goes with it. Besides, he is said to continue to nurse delusions of grandeur of returning to play a prominent role at the Center as the head of another hydraheaded third front coalition. That would only be possible if he were to retain his party's independent status.

I was talking recently to an MLA from the Hassan area. He pointed out the intense nature of the long standing rivalry between local Congress stalwarts such as Puttaswamy Gowda and the Deve Gowda clan. S.M.Krishna being from nearby Mandya also does not have good relations with the Gowda family. Numbers apart, all of this makes it extremely unlikely that any sort of alliance will materialize in the first place. Even if it were imposed by the Congress High Command for some unexplained reason, it is quite inconceivable that the local Congress unit would extend any sort of support to the JD(S). In such a scenario, he noted (correctly) that the outcome is likely to end up being mutually self-destructive.

Anonymous said...

>> I was talking recently to an MLA from the Hassan area. >>

so you have high connections? :-)

there is some speculation about the reddys in karnataka bjp. the local press is all pissed that bjp is making reddys ministers. but the secular congress seemed to have fielded atleast as many reddys as the bjp.

do you think bjp is getting to the reddys in karnataka to break into andhra? are the bjp's reddys the same as the congress's ysr.reddy (other than that ysr is a converted christian?) And are they likely to help the bjp in andhra?

Pilid said...

Anon,
No, I don't have any high connections. I just happen to know this particular guy through a former colleague of mine.
Yes, the Reddys have a significant presence in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region particularly because of their ownership of fertile lands, mills and the mining and quarrying industries. For the most part, they belong to the same caste as the Andhra Reddys though there are some variants (Lingareddys for example who consider themselves Lingayats though the Lingayats do not necessarily share the sentiment. Are they a variant of Reddys? So say some though lineage wise, I have no idea).

Is the BJP's relationship to Karnataka Reddys a gateway to Andhra politics? No. I do not believe there is any connection and I do not see them gaining any benefit in AP.