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'Macho' Modi bites dust in Karnataka; remains unacceptable, rank outsider

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BJP's Prime Ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi fails to cut ice with Karnataka voters as much-hyped Gujarat development model magic fails to work.

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

No one knows Narendra Modi outside Gujarat. It has been proved again by Karnataka elections. The outcome of much hyped Karnataka election was a foregone conclusion as BJP was seemingly downcast after Yediruppa episode. The interesting part in BJP's poll campaign was that whether Narendra Modi, aspirant for PMship from BJP could turn the tables or not and win Karnataka again for the BJP. But he did not bring smile to tje party as he himself failed in this litmus test. Expecting that Gujarat Chief Minister’s Narendra Modi’s magic will work in Karnataka was sheer stupidity by BJP rank and file.

One diffrence between Gujarat and Karnataka was Lokayukta. Karnataka has Lokayukta, whereas Gujarat has not. So the scandals of BJP government exposed this southern state --the gateway of BJP in the region. Now it should be understood that Modi is confined to just Gujarat and his magic will not work in any other part of the country now.

The BJP, clearly on the back foot at the end of a disastrous five-year reign in the State, desperately tried this last resort and failed. Enthused by the tremendous response to Modi’s first rally in Bangalore, he was persuaded to address two more meetings in urban Karnataka. When the Karnataka voters spoke, they rejected the BJP and ushered in the Congress, with 121 seats, nine above the required majority. Though it has got 40 seats over its 2008 tally, the Congress has not exactly swept Karnataka, as J. Jayalalithaa did in Tamil Nadu or Mamata Banerjee did West Bengal or Akhilesh Yadav accomplished in Uttar Pradesh.

That is because as Karnataka went to the polls, two Congress ministers at the Centre were in the dock over interfering with the CBI and corruption in the Railway Ministry. In Karnataka corruption, misgovernance, infighting, and finally former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyyurappa forming the KJP to not only split the BJP but also its vote bank, lost the BJP the only southern state in its kitty.

As counting began and the trends emerged, the ferocity with which knives were out for Modi was surprising. Of course, all Congress leaders on various channels gleefully taunted the BJP on the Modi magic wand failing to save them in Karnataka.

No surprise there. But the vehemence with which anchors on TV channels and their journalist guests pounced on hapless BJP leaders, urging them to “admit” that Modi did not have all-India appeal, was a little over the top. Karnataka was a state election fought on local issues related to both corruption and lack of governance. In the last few years Bangalore has worn the face of a city in decay, be it road maintenance, traffic management or garbage removal.

In a state with high literacy and a young urbanised work force, the frequent moral policing by goons of the Ram Sene who attacked pubs and manhandled young women in Mangalore was highly resented.

The vote is the weapon of the people and the BJP lost not only Mangalore but the whole state as well. Now to expect Modi to parachute into Karnataka and clear up the mess his BJP colleagues had created was asking for the moon.

After all public memory is not that short to wipe out murky images of several corruption charges against Yeddyurappa, the dilly-dallying on his removal as well as a response to the Reddy Brothers’ scam and the involvement of a top BJP leader at the Centre to protect the mining barons. And of course the changing of chief ministers.

But the problem is that Modi’s diehard fans, in and outside Gujarat, can’t accept a spade being called a spade when their hero is concerned.

For Congress, it was a bitter sweet victory. If Karnataka can reject BJP’s corruption and misgovernance today, the nation can follow suit in the Lok Sabha polls tomorrow.

The moot point is, however, something else. In Karnataka Muslims, and even to some extent Christian votes, might have gone against the BJP because of obvious reasons. But the BJP will have to answer as to why it lost power, notwithstanding campaign by Narendra Modi, in Himachal Pradesh in Oct last though the state has least percentage of Muslims anywhere in India. A little earlier in Jan 2012 the BJP lost Uttarakhand, with having very small Muslim population. True Modi did not campaign in the Assembly election in Uttarakhand yet his name was projected as the prime ministerial candidate at many places there too.

So in the states having more than 95 per cent Hindu population the BJP lost. Even Karnataka has just 12.2 per cent Muslims and 1.9 per cent Christians, which is much less than Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, UP or even Bihar. Thus the May 8 result is not the outcome of Hindu-Muslim polarization as some would try to make out.

So introspection has began in the Hindutva camp that the move to project Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate may backfire. Leaders like Lal Krishna Advani and Sushma Swaraj have already expressed their reservation. The NDA partner and the oldest secular ally, the Janata Dal (United), has got another opportunity to hit out at the Gujarat chief minister.

Modi himself refused to attend the parliamentary board meeting of the party in New Delhi on Wednesday on the pretext of tooth-ache. But the party sources said that the reason is something else. It was only recently that he was re-inducted into the parliamentary board with much pomp and show.

"It is a clear message that Modi failed despite the hype. People in Karnataka rejected the Modi brand of politics," Baroda based Social activist J.S.Bandukwala said. He further said that it was just a media hype, Modi could not transform crowd into votes.

All India Milli Council Gujarat state convener Mufti Rizwan Tarapuri said the Karnataka result had proved that Modi was not a winning factor for the BJP. "Modi's popularity was again tested after the Himachal polls but he failed to help the BJP," he said.

It may be noted that BJP's rout in Karnataka has taken some sheen off the party's poster boy Narendra Modi, who had been billed as a star vote-getter.

Modi addressed only three election rallies in Karnataka, but the BJP could not win even in those three places and macho Modi had to ultimately bite the dust and see his prime ministerial ambitions taking a nosedive.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]
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