The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) loss in the Karnataka Assembly elections means that the party is no longer in power in any of the five southern states. Karnataka was the only state in the south where the BJP had managed to form a government on its own. An alliance that includes the BJP is in power in the Union Territory of Puducherry. The BJP's mighty election machine, backed by the party’s rich coffers and the prime minister's dedicated following, failed to ensure a victory for the party.
Karnataka was one state where the BJP had a formidable presence as it had been in power earlier in this south Indian state. Buoyed by the trends in favour of the Congress party, addressing the media, former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah said Modi’s magic didn’t work in Karnataka. Talking to reporters at his residence in Mysuru, Siddaramaiah said: “I had already announced that Prime Minister Modi’s magic won’t work in Karnataka and the Congress party will get more than 120 seats.”
“The party won’t require the support of any other political outfit and will form the government on its own,” he added.
In the Kerala Assembly, the BJP has no MLAs currently. Its only MLA ever in the state, O Rajagopal, won from Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram in 2016. But in the 2021 elections, no BJP candidate managed to win.
In the Tamil Nadu Assembly, four BJP MLAs emerged victorious in 2021 in alliance with the AIADMK, after two decades without any seats. Though the BJP has increased its focus in the state, it is not showing any immediate indication of an electoral dividend.
In Telangana, though the BJP made inroads by winning five seats in 2014, the number was reduced to just one in the 2018 election. BJP MLA Raja Singh, who won from the Goshamahal constituency, was the sole legislator from the saffron party. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP performed fairly well, bagging four out of 17 MP seats. The party polled nearly 19.45% of the total votes. The party’s luck changed after the two bye-elections that ensued in Dubbaka and Huzurabad constituencies. The BJP’s tally rose to three legislators following their success in these bye-elections.
With Telangana heading to the polls in a few months, the BJP has been working aggressively on the ground. However, the Congress has also stepped up its game with Priyanka Gandhi appointed in charge of the state. The Karnataka victory has further bolstered the party.
In the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh that was carved out in 2014, the BJP won four seats in the first Assembly elections. But in the 2019 elections, the party could not open its account. Since then, it has been raking up several issues and also highlighting incidents of temple desecreation and idol vandalism as “state sponsored” in a bid to portray Jagan Mohan Reddy as an ‘anti- Hindu’ Chief Minister. How much of these efforts will reflect electorally remains to be seen.
For now, with the loss in Karnataka, the impact of the result will be felt in the neighbouring south Indian states.
Watch the Congress War Room chief explain how the party strategised the 2023 Karnataka elections