When the results of the bypolls held in three Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka - Ballari, Mandya and Shivamogga and two assembly constituencies of Jamkhandi and Ramanagaram came out, what was proved without doubt was the truth that if secular parties stood united, it was possible to bring the far-right wing party of BJP to its knees.
When the BJP, Congress and Janata Dal-S contested separately in the assembly elections held in May this year, although the BJP failed to secure the nominal majority required to come to power as expected, it succeeded in becoming the largest single party. When the BJP employed all kinds of machinations to capture power including horse-trading as usual, the Congress high command rose to the situation, totally unexpected. The success of the tactical move by Rahul Gandhi to form a coalition government by making H D Kumaraswamy, the Janata Dal(Secular) leader the chief minister, paved way for a remarkable twist. The Congress and Janata Dal (S) led coalition government is currently in power in Karnataka after beating all the maneuvers carried out by the BJP with the help of the powerbase at the Centre. The BJP has still not stopped the attempts to seize power by creating split and fissures between the two parties. However, the bypoll results prove that the secular alliance has succeeded in defusing that.
The Election Commission (EC) was rejecting BJP’s demand – on the grounds that only a few months are left for general elections to be held - to postpone the bypolls now in Ballari, Mandya and Shivamogga Lok Sabha constituencies where MPs have resigned following the assembly elections. It is clear that the BJP feared a prospect of defeat. The outcome ratifies it as well. The BJP has received a heavy blow in Ballari where the Reddy brothers, the kings of illegal mining, customarily ensure victory by a free flow of money. The Congress has made a massive comeback. The Janata Dal candidate has won with a huge majority. The only relief for the BJP is in Shivamogga which Raghavendra won by a small majority in the region where his father Yeddyurappa had emerged victorious with a massive majority. Anita Kumaraswamy, wife of H D Kumaraswamy and Congress candidate Anand Nyamagouda have been elected with a massive majority in Ramanagara and Jamkhandi respectively. It should be remembered that overall in 2018, BJP could only secure a Lok Sabha and an assembly seat each out of the 14 Lok Sabha and assembly seats to which bypolls were held across the country.
The picture emerging from an analysis of the results of the by-polls as well as Karnataka assembly elections, is clear and transparent: if Congress and other secular parties contest against the BJP with mutual understanding, that party cannot, even with any mesmerising tactics by Amit Shah, get coroneted in power either in the Centre or in states. Given that in the last general election the entire NDA's vote share was a mere 38 per cent, Fascists were able to win the parliament by a huge majority thanks to the disunity and internal fights within the secular front. If a total alliance is not feasible, even if mutual contest is obviated through electoral understanding, the secular opposition can, through 62 per cent vote, save India from the Modi-Amit Shah supremacy. To that end, the first thing that Congress and other secular parties should have is the realization that the country is facing a precarious situation in which the Sangh Parivar is out to assume control of the entire constitutional institutions and impose its writ on them. When fascism which ventures to defy the verdicts of even the highest court, has to be seen as the arch foe in the 2019 election, if the impediment for such a united stance is just the bickering over seat-sharing, history will not forgive them. It is high time the left parties and BSP shed their vacillations. Perhaps because the thought has dawned on them that the sea they may sink in is very deep, NCP in Maharashtra has become ready to conclude an alliance with the Congress. In UP, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have not quite fallen out with each other. Ultimately, prospects of national secular unity would hinge on Rahul Gandhi's wise and prudent moves.