Karnataka Elections: An effect of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra or victory for local issues?


Congress workers celebrate the party's victory in the Karnataka Assembly elections, in Bikaner, Rajasthan, on Saturday (ANI)

With Congress all set to assume power in politically-crucial Karnataka, the party has attributed the victory to Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi

Our Bureau
New Delhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday hailed the party’s victory in Karnataka assembly polls and said that people of the State defeated the politics of hate. Addressing reporters at the Congress headquarters here in the national capital Rahul Gandhi said that the Congress stood in support of the poor. “The poor defeated crony capitalists in Karnataka. What I really liked about this election is that we did not fight the battle with hatred. We fought the elections with love…,” he said.

“I want to thank all the party leaders and workers in Karnataka. Karnataka mein Nafrat ki bazaar band hui hai, Mohabbat ki dukaane khuli hai. We fought on the issues of the poor. We did not fight this battle using hatred and wrong words. This will happen in every state,” Rahul Gandhi told the mediapersons here.

Rahul Gandhi coined the ‘Nafrat ki bazaar band hui hai, Mohabbat ki dukaane khuli hai’ phrase during the Bharat Jodo Yatra which he undertook last year and ended this year in Srinagar. “Poor people defeated crony capitalists in Karnataka. We didn’t fight this battle using hatred…” he said.

With Congress all set to assume power in politically-crucial Karnataka, the party on Saturday attributed the victory to Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress maintained a lead from the morning when counting began for the assembly seats in the fiercely contested election. Congress general secretary in-charge, Communications Jairam Ramesh said the result is a direct impact of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Karnataka, the intangible impact was unifying the party, revitalizing the cadre and shaping the narrative for the Karnataka elections.

“While this is the direct impact of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Karnataka, the intangible impact was uniting the party, reviving the cadre and shaping the narrative for the Karnataka elections. It was during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, from the many conversations Rahul Gandhi had with the people of Karnataka, that the guarantees and the promises in our manifesto were discussed and finalized,” tweeted Jairam Ramesh.

He also said that people rejected BJP in Karnataka.

“The whole election campaign was about the issues of Karnataka. We did not make it a national election; we made this election for Vidhan Sabha. Congress’ win is PM Modi’s decisive defeat. This is because except for PM Modi, there was no other face. The issues we raised were related to the state. But BJP made the election campaign like a referendum for PM Modi. JP Nadda said that if you give a vote to Congress PM Modi’s blessings will not be with you. The campaigning by PM Modi was totally rejected by the people of Karnataka,” Jairam Ramesh told ANI.

A Congress worker holds a placard depicting Rahul Gandhi as Bahubali to celebrate party’s victory in the Karnataka assembly elections at AICC office in New Delhi on Saturday (ANI Photo/Mohd Zakir)

The Congress put up a table comparing the party’s performance in the 20 assembly constituencies covered during the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The list showed that the Congress, which had won 5 of these 20 seats in the 2018 Karnataka assembly elections, took a massive lead and led in 15 seats till 4 pm. The BJP, which had won nine out of 20 seats last in the last elections, was ahead in two. JDS, which bagged six seats in 2018, was leading in three.

Rahul Gandhi-led ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ entered Karnataka on September 30 last year. The yatra covered 511 km in the state in over 20 days. The Bharat Jodo Yatra, which started in Kanyakumari on September 7 last year, concluded on January 30 in Srinagar after covering 3,970 km, 12 states, and two Union territories.

As the counting put the Congress firmly on course to come to power in Karnataka, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and former Maharashtra chief minister Sharad Pawar on Saturday claimed that the results “present a picture” of next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party, Pawar claimed that the people have given a “strong verdict” against the party. “Success and failure can be understood. But the role of defeating the BJP in Karnataka was taken up by the people there. I congratulate the people of Karnataka and the Congress. They have taught BJP a lesson. Now this process will be done across the country,” Sharad Pawar said while addressing a press conference here on Saturday.

Slamming the BJP, he accused the party of toppling governments by “breaking MLAs” in the states where it doesn’t have power.

“In recent times, BJP has used the formula of snatching power by breaking the MLAs in the state where Opposition parties are in power. They did the same in Karnataka. We all saw what Eknath Shinde did in Maharashtra.

The former CM added, “The same was done in Madhya Pradesh under the leadership of Kamal Nath. Even in Goa, when the BJP did not have a majority, it broke the MLA and took over the state. This is a new method being implemented by using tool wealth”.

The NCP chief further claimed that BJP has lost the “majority of states” in the country, which “presents a picture” of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections the next year.

“BJP doesn’t have governments in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Jharkhand, Punjab, West Bengal. Hence, BJP is out of power in the majority of the states. We can get an idea of the picture that will be seen in the 2024 elections through the Karnataka elections,” the veteran leader said.

Pawar also slammed Union Home Minister Amit Shah accusing him of “creating terror”.

“The Home Minister should speak calmly. The riots should not happen anywhere in the country. No matter who is in the government. Because it is tiring indirectly in a way that the country and the common man have to pay the price. It is an attempt to create terror. People have taken note of it and people have given a strong verdict on it. If someone tries to use religion and caste, he succeeds at some point, but people don’t like it,” he said.

Meanwhile, veteran actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Saturday extended his greetings to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after the grand old party crossed the majority mark in the Karnataka assembly polls.

Taking to Twitter, Kamal Haasan said, “Shri @RahulGandhi ji, Heartiest Congratulations for this significant victory! Just as Gandhiji, you walked your way into people’s hearts and as he did you demonstrated that in your gentle way, you can shake the powers of the world -with love and humility. Your credible and creditable approach, without bravado or chest-thumping has ushered a breath of fresh air for the people. You trusted the people of Karnataka to reject divisiveness, who in turn have unitedly reciprocated by placing their faith in you. Kudos for not just the victory but also for the manner of victory!”

With the Congress’ emphatic victory in the Karnataka elections on Saturday, ousting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power in the only southern state ruled by it, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said the election results marked a “BJP-free South India”.

Addressing Congress workers at State party headquarters, Kharge said, “We started from Mekedatu (padayatra). Then came the Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanniyakumari to Kashmir. We have won almost 99 per cent of the seats in the route in which Rahul Gandhi walked. I thank him for that.” Kharge attributed the victory to the people of Karnataka.

He said, “Ego does not stay for long. It is a democracy and we will have to listen to people and bow our heads before those who show us the right path. It is not a victory of anyone. This victory belongs to the people of the state. They decided and chose. That is why we got 136 seats – huge after 36 years.”

“It is a big victory. Through this, new energy emerged in the whole nation. BJP used to taunt us and say that ‘we will make Congress mukt Bharat’. Now the truth is that it is ‘BJP mukt south India,” added Kharge.

The Congress chief further said, “You all people should be united like this only then we can win the war and then only the country can be saved. if you want democratic government everywhere then we have to fight the bigger battle in the coming elections.”

Looks like the battle lines for 2024 are drawn already.

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