Bengaluru: The BJP still remains a divided house even after the drubbing in the assembly elections in Karnataka. In-fighting is raging within the party as senior leaders are accused of practicing adjustment politics in the state. The development has demoralized the party cadre.
The party has to appoint the Leaders of the Opposition for the assembly, council. It is also looking for a dynamic candidate for the post of state president, as the tenure of Nalin Kumar Kateel has ended. There is talk that the party will also change the state in-charge Arun Singh to gain momentum.
As the Congress is growing stronger in the state and successfully sending a message to other states against the prospects of the BJP, the BJP is really in need of a booster. Over half a dozen cabinet ministers and more than 40 sitting MLAs suffered a humiliating defeat in the assembly elections.
When it comes to introspection the party leaders who totally failed to read the mind of the voters are falling short of honest assessment, according to sources. The Shakthi scheme which enables free travel for women has won hearts and directly affected the traditional Hindu vote bank of the BJP. Making use of the facility, the middle class and poor women have been making trips to Hindu pilgrimage centres across Karnataka.
The famous Hindu temples in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and other districts of north Karnataka are seeing a huge turnout of devotees since the launch of the scheme. Congress workers in Karnataka are claiming credit and BJP workers at the grassroots level are finding it very difficult to attract the people towards the party and retain the cadre.
The BJP is trying to gain traction by attacking the Congress on the power tariff hike. Taking note of the outrage, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah responded quickly, convened a meeting of protesting industrialists and pacified them. While the Congress is fully focusing on implementation of its poll guarantees and preparing for the Lok Sabha elections, BJP leaders are busy in infighting.
Former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai who is indirectly accused of carrying out adjustment politics with the Congress party, had to explain that the meeting with senior Congress leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa was just a courtesy and they are distant relatives. Bommai also clarified that there is no political connection to it.
Party sources explained that to avoid further damage, the party has decided to go back to old warhorse, former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa. Presently, the BJP lacks the leaders to challenge CM Siddaramaiah and Dy CM D.K. Shivakumar. Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha known for his sharp attacks on anti-Hidutva forces is described as an immature politician, who talks according to the whims and fancies of Siddaramaiah.
BJP national general secretary C.T. Ravi has been attacking the BJP leadership as well as the opposition Congress. Ravi who lost in the assembly elections is finding it difficult to face Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar. He challenged Siddaramaiah to show a letter of commitment by the Food Corporation of India in connection with the row over the supply of rice.
Siddaramaiah published the letter of commitment and asked Ravi to put pressure on the Central government instead of doing politics over the poor man’s scheme. These developments indicate that the BJP is clearly on the back foot in the state.
The BJP has decided to stage a protest during the assembly session in July. All party legislators will take part in the protest for 10 days. The party also wants to send out a message to the Lingayat community that it respects the community leaders.
The party had repeatedly stopped Yediyurappa from taking up state-wide tours after he was asked to step down from the post of CM. The party sidelined him totally until the internal surveys indicated that the Lingayat community, which provided the core strength to the party, has moved away from it.
Letting former CM Jagadish Shettar and Laxman Savadi leave the party by denying them tickets proved to be the last nail in the coffin.
Dingaleshwara Swamiji of Balehosur Mutt had stated that the BJP’s prospects are so bad in the state that even if Yediyurappa tried to rebuild it, the party won’t be able to revive its past glory. At the height of the PM Modi wave, the party had won 25 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress won only one seat. This time, the Congress is confidently claiming that with its Dalit, Muslim, general castes vote bank intact, it would win more than 20 seats.
Sources in the party said that the high command is closely watching the developments in the state and realizing the mistakes. A plan is being prepared to recapture Karnataka as it is the gateway to South India for the party. The cadre and Hindutva activists are eagerly awaiting the move to rebuild the base in Karnataka.