The Karnataka election results have shown that the 2019 General elections may not be a cakewalk for the ruling BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. The Union government may be, hence, tempted to make announcements to lure people, starting with its own staff. However, it may not pay back in terms of votes.
Ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections, the then Siddaramaiah government of the Congress party had signed a pay hike order in March. Just two months before the polls, this was termed by many as a Holi gift for the people of the state from the Congress government.
Siddaramiah’s decision was apparently taken to woo voters. The state government had approved 30% salary hike as recommended by the 6th pay Commission. The revised pay scale was to be implemented from June 1. Not only this, the Karnataka government had also decided to revise the minimum and maximum pension of state government staff from Rs 4800 and Rs 39,900 to Rs 8,500 and Rs 75,300 respectively.
Siddarmaaiah government’s decision, however, resulted in enough votes in the state as the party was reduced to mere 68 seats from the full majority it enjoyed earlier. Not only this, even Siddaramiah hardly managed to maintain his seat in the state assembly by winning from Badami by a narrow margin and losing Chamundeshwari. The Congress, however, remains relevant in the state because of its timely post-poll alliance with the JD(S).
Some reports speculate the Centre may hike salaries of Central government staff beyond the 7th Pay Commission recommendation before next year’s elections. But the lessons from Karnataka prove that such move may not result in more votes for the BJP or its allies in 2019. The Centre may be more tempted to announce sops for non-government workers, poor and the villagers who form the largest voting blocks.