Discontent within a section of the party compounded by power and water crises has made the task of ruling BJP in Karnataka a bit tough even as its leadership is confident of improving upon from the previous tally of 18 seats of the total 28 in the Lok Sabha polls.
In the 2004 parliamentary polls,the BJP banking upon Vajpayee government’s image and the ‘India shining’ campaign posted a resounding victory on 18 seats,unlike the rest of the country where the slogan failed to pay expected dividends to the party.
The ruling Congress in the state won just eight seats while the JDS headed by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda bagged two.
In the 2004 Assembly polls on 224 seats,even after losing power the Congress with its own 65 seats and 58 of JDS formed a coalition government. The BJP emerged as the single largest party with 79 seats. The subsequent JDS-BJP coalition also collapsed midway.
The last assembly polls,however,saw the BJP realise its dream of installing the first-ever saffron party government in the South.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls,the BJP is now leaving no stone unturned,setting an ambitious target of winning 22 seats. And to help this,the party is touting ‘achievements’ of Yeddyurappa government.
The BJP got into the act to widen the party base soon after B S Yeddyurappa assumed office on May 30,2008,launching what is now called the “Operation Lotus” aimed at luring leaders from other parties.
Under the operation dismissed by opposition as nothing but the “vulgar” defections,nine opposition MLAs were won over with those from Congress and JDS made to resign and contest the byepolls,a move that helped the razor-thin majority BJP government gain more seats.
The BJP increased its strength to 115 from 110 in the assembly after the defectors emerged victorious in the by-polls.
However,on the flip side,the saffron party also lost three MPs–Manorama Madhwaraj,Manjunath Kunnur and H T Sangliana to the Congress.
The “Operation Lotus” partly boomeranged as it fed discontent among loyal leaders and party workers over the red carpet rolled out to the “outsiders”.
However,the move continued to poach leaders like Umesh Katti in Belgaum,G S Basavaraju in Tumkur,D C Thammanna of Congress in Mandya and Gurupadappa Nagamarapally (Cong) in Bidar and a few others.
But at the same time,discontent within the BJP and mounting civic problems like severe power shortage,drinking water scarcity and distribution of ration cards started posing a major challenge to the Yeddyurappa government.
The ruling party has also to contend with the reality in the post-delimitation phase on all the parliamentary constituencies. It has resulted into the reserved seats going up from four to seven.
Another problem for BJP is its decision to give tickets to the kin of its senior leaders as the move has also led to resent within the party ranks.
However,the situation is no better for the Congress and JDS which too have claimed that their parties would do better. The opposition has been pinning hopes on the BJP’s ‘poor performance’ in the state but the ruling party blames the Congress for the present ills faced by the state.
The Congress and JDS are yet to release their list of candidates,something over which the BJP has made a head start,naming nominees for 20 of the 28 constituencies.
JDS is going all out to increase its tally from two,but the polls will be an acid test for the party and former Prime Minister Gowda,who played key role in the emergence of the third front with Karnataka as its launch pad.
The Congress has at last managed to get into the campaign mode sulking former deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who was upset over not being given a “prominent role”.
However,the final strength of these parties will be known on May 16 the day on which the results will be declared. Karnataka will vote on April 23 and 30 to elect 28 representatives to Lok Sabha.
Yeddyurappa handed out a crushing defeat to Bangarappa,a common candidate of SP-Congress and JDS– in Shikaripaura assembly constituency in last year’s election. Detractors of Bangarappa dismiss him as a “spent force”.
The situation is no better for the Congress and JDS which have been claiming that their parties would do better. The opposition has been pinning hopes on what they think is the BJP governments ‘poor performance’ but the ruling party is seeking answers from the Congress,blaming it for the present ills faced by the state.
The Congress and JDS are yet to release their list of candidates,something over which the BJP has made a headstart,naming nominees for 20 of the 28 constituencies.
JDS is going all out to enhance its tally of two,but the elections will be an acid test to it,particularly as it has to prove its strength in the home state of Devegowda,who has played a key role in the emergence of the third front,with Karnataka as its launch pad on March 12.
The Congress has at last managed to get into the campaign mode sulking former deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who was upset over not being given a “prominent role”,and is presenting a picture of unity to humble the BJP. Come May 16,when votes are counted,the true strength of these parties will be known.