Opinion: How 'ruthless' PM Modi, Amit Shah lost the numbers game in Karnataka
PM Modi and his deputy Amit Shah ran a spirited campaign to annex Karnataka but came up short, in the end, giving a chance to Congress & JD(U) to stitch a last moment coalition to stop the BJP in its tracks.
Did the BJP's magic duo get it wrong in the end, maybe.
Firstly, the BJP was nowhere close to Congress's 2013 tally of 122, finishing with 104. The failure to clinch the magic number 112 helped the Opposition to seize the initiative.
Even though the BJP won more seats than the Congress but the party failed to pick as much vote share than Rahul's party and to top it all it failed to put down the Congress and JD(U) even though Modi's BJP fared much better than the last elections.
The failure could largely be attributed to lack of local support and leaders at the grassroots even though Yeddyurappa's appeal helped the BJP to consolidate votes. A party which is by nature focussed on getting the numbers game right could not blunt the Opposition this time.
Even though the Vokkaligas and Lingayats voted in large numbers for the JD(S) and BJP and the Dalits split with Congress, still the saffron surge could not come about at a crucial time.
Congress finished with 78 seats a creditable show given the fact that there was an obvious anti-incumbency wave in the state. The villain in the show for the Congress was former chief minister Siddaramaiah who with his announcement of turning Lingayat into a religious minority wasn't able to convince the voters with his last-minute antics. The numbers game backfired on the Congress too.
Politics maybe a ruthless numbers game but it has several different parameters - it cannot be applied in a singular way in all elections.
In the end, both the BJP and Congress did not give enough credit to the voters who made up their own mind. In this the JD(U) played the game according to its limitation, retaining the Vokkaliga votebank in the south and mopping up enough numbers to force the Congress to allow it have a free hand and "unconditional" support.
The JD(S) retained its vote share, dipping marginally from 20.2 to 18.3, but it was enough to propel Deve Gowda & Sons to force the Congress into submission.
Now the drama moves to Raj Bhawan and all eyes are on Governor Vala, an old BJP hand, the question is will he or won't he invite the JD(S)-Congress combine to form the next government or will he first invite the BJP, the single largest party to prove its majority?
Amit Shah could yet spring a surprise and cobble up the numbers - 12 in all - needed in the last over, and emerge victorious but in this last dash to reach the target the BJP could well stumble again and expose its flanks which could mean its gateway to the south would again be a bridge too far.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)