The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is cruising towards a comfortable majority on its own, the trends so far suggest, opening what BJP President Amit Shah stressed was its gateway to the South. A clear verdict from Bengaluru has implications for the BJP's future prospects in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala. The mandate would eliminate the much-speculated role of the Janata Dal (Secular) as the kingmaker and put paid to the theories of a coalition government and the larger ramifications for central politics in Delhi.
The trends so far seem to establish Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s position as the first among equals in the BJP and indeed the Sangh Parivar. A clear majority for the BJP will confirm Shah's skills as a poll strategist par excellence because it was the caste equation he formulated by coalescing the core support of the Lingayats with that of the Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, Brahmins and sections of the Dalits that broke the majority jinx for the BJP.
Modi had unleashed a campaign blitzkrieg in the penultimate phase of electioneering to ramp up his government's achievements, run down the Congress and belie the hyperbole around the welfare schemes of Chief Minister Siddharamaiah of the Congress. The fact that the BJP is surging towards bagging a majority of the rural seats shows that the credibility of the Centre's schemes like Ujjwala, subsidised medicines for the poor, crop insurance, neem-coated urea, Mudra and Jan Dhan has worked much more than Siddharamaiah's Bhagya projects.
It was a Modi- and Centre-dominated election where the BJP's chief-ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa was crowded out of the main frame. Even the votes from Yeddyurappa's community, the Lingayats, returned to the BJP largely because of Modi and the prospect of regaining the political power the Lingayats lost in 2013.
Lastly, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) complemented the BJP's efforts vote for vote. The RSS deployed its foot soldiers in the villages to mobilise the undecided voters. In the end, the plank of nationalism and the gains to be made by having the same party ruling Karnataka and the Centre seems to have worked for the BJP. It proves that Siddharamaiah's efforts to divide the polity on caste and religious lines came a cropper. When he resurrected the legacy of Tipu Sultan by organising Tipu Jayanto, the move ended up consolidating the Hindus.