DK Shivkumar is a formidable opponent and he has the trust of Congress leadership

Results of five elections to state assemblies are about communication and connect – in the big state of Uttar Pradesh it was correct communication said unabashedly, and in the hard fought battleground of Punjab, it was clamour for change that had clear connect with people.

Final count after decent predictions of the Exit polls or Post polls surveys in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur have added much to our knowledge quotient and allowed us to indulge in this analysis.

Uttar Pradesh again going in the BJP kitty points to the mapping of welfare schemes, especially the women voters. And the women did come out in large numbers to support BJP.

However, what drove the message of benefits of (ration and prashasan) was the effective communication of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the party leadership. The welfare schemes spoke for themselves while allowing the BJP leadership to attack the opposition. On the other hand, the opposition made a shrill campaign without anything to show.  

Apart from welfare schemes, parallelly BJP had established a 3-layered election unit in each of UP MLA seats.

In Punjab, AAP rode to victory on voters’ disillusionment with the traditional parties while promising to bring about a change. Delhi is closer to Punjab and it is easy for the AAP to sell the Delhi model of governance of improving the condition of schools and health facilities. AAP also promised ₹1,000 per month for women, free power up to 300 units and round the clock electricity.

What does UP or Punjab results mean to Karnataka, especially the ruling BJP? The party and the government will have to answer many questions, including anti-incumbency. Last week’s budget does not offer any grand answer that could have set direction for the 2023 elections.

Unlike Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav in UP, Congress party state chief DK Shivakumar is aggressive in words and deeds; does not shy away from street fights or borrowing from the BJP’s strategy book to hit back or seize an opportunity. He is predictably unpredictable. To combat DKS, Chief Minister BS Bommai has to be Yogi Aditynath and more.

BJP should stop the drift and look at Karnataka as 2 entities in 1 state. Treat capital Bengaluru as a separate unit and the rest of the state as another entity. Tech driven economy slogan does not bring votes in rest of Karnataka as it sells in Bengaluru. Beyond Bengaluru requires a lot of ground work in terms of connect, making govt schemes reach the last mile and also relook at social engineering. BJP has to learn from the close race in Belgaum bye-elections.

To counter aggressive Congress, BJP has to set the agenda – political programmes, development narrative, caste combinations and cluster campaign.

Arvind Kejriwal won Punjab because he changed the communication narrative with change (badlav) itself as the central theme.

In Karnataka, both BJP and Congress have to relook at their communication strategy. There is scope for both, but one party will win. And the party that scripts distinct communication will come the winner.