Editor’s Note: What does the Karnataka election result portend?

Published : May 17, 2023 16:54 IST - 2 MINS READ

It is an important one because the Congress won decisively against a party that fought purely on divisive terms.

The photograph of the celebrating voter on our cover tells a powerful story. There is joy on his face. There is abandon in his arms. There is the slump of relief in his body.

What does this election result portend? And why is it so important?

For one, the Congress won the election with handsome numbers. Second, it won more than double the seats the BJP did. Ground reports from Karnataka have been predicting a BJP defeat for months now, but nobody anticipated quite such a margin. The result indicates that India’s largest opposition party is still alive and capable of kicking, a validation that puts some much-needed wind in the Congress sails.

But it is even more important because the BJP fought the election purely on divisive terms while the Congress declared it would shut down people and organisations who spread hatred. This was a bold move, given how strongly the narrative of othering has become entrenched. Yet, we saw what Karnataka chose.

In the past nine years, the BJP has spread the tentacles of disharmony with a relentlessness that has threatened to engulf the entire nation, which is why every political rejection of the party generates an outsize response from those who reject majoritarian politics. Those who, we like to believe, exist in large numbers in India.

Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed has done an excellent breakdown of the election while our experts Aakar Patel, A. Narayana, and Sanjal Shastri analyse its long-term significance—for the Congress, for the BJP, for Karnataka, for the country.

And if these results push the BJP to chart a more inclusive course, there will really be reason to celebrate. Like the man on our cover.

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