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This article was first published 1 year ago  » News » Why BJP In Karnataka Is Not In Good Health

Why BJP In Karnataka Is Not In Good Health

By Aditi Phadnis
March 29, 2023 09:11 IST
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'There is a conscious move by the BJP to distance itself from the current state leadership.'

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra D Modi along with Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, left, at the dedication of key development projects to the nation, in Hubballi-Dharwad, March 12, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

On February 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Shivamogga in Karnataka.

This was his fourth visit to the poll-bound state. He gave lavishly: Smart City projects, railways and road projects, and rural water connectivity projects under the Jal Jeevan Mission in Shivamogga.

An airport for the region, named after celebrated Kannada writer Kuvempu and developed in the shape of a lotus, has been developed at a cost of around Rs 450 crore (Rs 4.5 billion).

The passenger terminal building at the airport can handle 300 passengers per hour.

The airport will improve connectivity and accessibility of Shivamogga and other neighbouring areas in the Malnad region.

'Those wearing Hawaii chappals will now be able to travel in a hawai jahaaz (aircraft),' the PM said.

The PM's visit stands out for what he said -- but also for what he didn't say.

His visit coincided with the birthday of former chief minister and Shivamogga leader, Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa.

He told the crowd: 'February 27 is also important because today is the birthday of the most loved and respected leader -- Yediyurappa. I wish him a long life. He spent his life serving the people and working for the welfare of those in Karnataka.'

He then asked the crowd to turn on the flashlights on their mobiles to wish the leader.

The crowd obeyed and the venue was a sea of bobbing flashlights.

Interestingly, Modi said nothing about the tenure of current BJP CM Basavaraj Somappa Bommai or the work done by other local leaders.

Writing for local media, respected commentator and Professor and Dean, School of Social Sciences, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru, Narendar Pani says there is a conscious move by the BJP to distance itself from the current state leadership.

'The BJP's strategy is not just a matter of its undeniable faith in the Modi phenomenon. It is also an acknowledgement of the fact that the BJP in Karnataka is not in good health. Amit Shah virtually said as much when he distanced the national leadership from the corruption associated with the present state government, by promising to remove corruption if voted to power...' Pani wrote.

'A Modi-led BJP strategy will provide the party with the additional advantage of bypassing the state leadership,' Pani pointed out.

As the campaign hots up, there is an indication that the cues given by the state BJP leadership are finding only limited resonance by the central BJP.

For instance, there was an effort to project the BJP identity in the state as standing for Veer Savarkar, with Tipu Sultan as the 'other'.

But the nudge given by the state leadership has been largely ignored by the Centre, with most leaders from Delhi focusing on welfare projects and the development theme.

Yediyurappa has said voters should judge the government on its promises and performance.

But the most interesting element of the BJP's strategy seems to be to make an all-out effort to eliminate third parties from the contest.

Over the past few weeks, Home Minister Amit Shah has launched a blistering attack on the Janata Dal-Secular, the party that has given Karnataka its only PM -- Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda.

The BJP believes the greatest impediment to it is its lacklustre performance in Old Mysuru: The regions of Mandya and Hassan which are the strongholds of the JD-S.

Of the 61 seats in the region, the BJP has been unable to cross 12.

This time, Shah has tasked the local unit with winning at least 35 seats of 61.

This, locals concede, is not an easy task.

Except for its victory in two by-elections (Krishnarajapete in Mandya and Sira in Tumkur) in 2020, the party has had to huff and puff, without making any substantial inroads into the region.

The thinking is that with the elimination of arbitrage-seekers like JD-S, the BJP will easily vanquish the Congress.

But this is easier said than done.

There is another, albeit small, threat.

One of the Reddy brothers -- G Janardhana Reddy (aka Bellary King) -- who shot to fame for his involvement in various alleged mining scandals, is once again in the political spotlight.

He has launched his own party and will contest 15-20 seats in Bellary and central Karnataka.

In a bid to counter the new party, Shah held a roadshow in Sandur in Bellary last month.

But even if the Reddy brothers take away two or three seats, it will spell a setback for the BJP.

This election will be the last for several big leaders from the state: Deve Gowda, Yediyurappa, and possibly Siddaramaiah of the Congress.

The vacancy created by their exit will lead to new equations and emergence of younger leaders.

The central BJP is considering that option as well while working to create new, malleable, leaders. This election will reveal who these might be.

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Aditi Phadnis
Source: source
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