Congress President Rahul Gandhi smiles as he addresses the media at the party office, in New Delhi, on May 19, 2018. (Photograph: Ravi Choudhary/PTI) 

In Karnataka, Congress Template For 2019 Emerges

The much-awaited Karnataka floor test ended in an anti-climax of sorts with the chief minister for three days, BS Yeddyurappa, choosing to resign ahead of the vote instead of being defeated in the Karnataka Assembly. Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy will now be sworn in as Chief Minister on Wednesday May 23.

But the success of the Congress-JD(S) combine in forming the government, even as BJP won the most seats, may hold the key to the opposition strategy before the next general election slated in 2019. “I think the message is quite clear that we will be aligning with like-minded parties in order to oppose the BJP” senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal told BloombergQuint after Yeddyurappa’s resignation. He added, though, that decisions on alliances would differ from state to state.

There are many states where the Congress party is one-to-one against the BJP, there are other states where the Congress does not have enough of a presence at this point.
Kapil Sibal, Senior Leader, Congress

Also read: Karnataka Verdict: Kumaraswamy To Form Government On Wednesday After 3-Day CM Yeddyurappa Resigns

Chief Minister-Designate HD Kumaraswamy has extended invitations to all regional leaders to attend his oath taking ceremony on Monday. It is expected to be a show of strength of opposition unity.

The Karnataka situation allows regional parties to start conversations with the Congress, according to senior journalist and Editorial Director of Quintillion Media, Sanjay Pugalia. This show of strength also puts on pause efforts by Chief Ministers K Chandrashekar Rao and Mamata Banerjee to form a third front. A host of regional opposition leaders were quick to celebrate at the turn of events on Saturday, an indication of how the Karnataka result resonates nationally.

Political analyst Amitabh Tewari, however, cautioned the Congress against overconfidence after this ‘marginal victory’. He believes that opposition parties coming together to form a coalition against the BJP will be an advantage for Prime Minister Modi in terms of political narrative.

This will give the narrative to Modi, saying that ‘I am trying to weed out corruption from the country and all the opportunistic parties have ganged up to beat me’.
Amitabh Tiwari, Political Analyst

Watch the full conversation here.