The Karnataka BJP Is Imploding. The Myth Of The So-Called Chanakya Is Over.
The inside story of the BJP's campaign in Karnataka.
In less than two weeks from today, the much-anticipated Karnataka election would be done and dusted. Contrary to how most State elections have gone since 2014, Karnataka is turning out to be a tough fort for the BJP to breach. Even in the last lap of the State election, the Party is still ironing out internal differences.
The fact that Karnataka BJP is a broken house is not new. What is new, however, is that Amit Shah has sided with B.S. Yeddyurappa’s bete noire union minister Ananth Kumar and RSS man BL Santosh to deny tickets to Yeddyurappa’s son B Y Vijendra and close confidant Ms Shoba Karandlaje.
While there are many theories going around on why tickets were denied to the two, all underlying theories have the same summary that the BJP wanted to reduce the overbearing influence of Yeddyurappa on the State’s Party unit.
The rival camp baulked at the prospect of two more from the Yeddyurappa’s coterie joining the fray. According to one source, when the Yashwanthpura constituency came up for discussion during the ticket distribution, Ms Shobha had strongly expressed her readiness to contest. “I believe there is no better candidate for Yashwantpura than me,” she reportedly said. That ticket was eventually given to sandalwood actor Jaggesh. For the second son, Vijendra, who was already three weeks into campaigning against CM Siddaramaiah’s son Dr. Yatindra in Varuna, the reason for rejection on the penultimate day of nomination was jarring. “Just because he (Yeddyurappa) has B-forms in his home doesn’t mean that he can give it to anyone,” a Party source said. “No one was consulted when Vijendra was sent to Varuna for campaigning, and no one approved it.” For Yeddyurappa, the man who literally built the Party in the State and also brought it down to its knees, this was a catastrophe. It took four days for the man with a short temper and stubborn attitude to recollect his thoughts.
The Karnataka BJP has a problem and it is a big one. It has no mass leader other than Yeddyurappa. In a State that mostly votes its caste, Yeddyurappa is akin to hot ghee in the mouth for the Party. Too precious to spit out, injurious if swallowed. The BJP ticket distribution, which according to many, largely bears the hallmark of Yeddyurappa, has left many Party loyalists fuming. Most of the contenders who have been denied tickets have gone neutral. Curiously, in the case of Varuna constituency, most of the volunteers who were buzzing around Vijendra have switched over to Congress.
As if this isn’t enough of a challenge to resolve, the adjustment with Janardhan Reddy and company has boomeranged. It is surprising that the famed strategists of the BJP did not see that coming. Both Central and State leadership had judiciously worked for over two years to dry-clean the ore tainted Ballari crew. They were even handed out eight tickets. After coming under severe criticism, the Central leadership is trying to portray itself as an innocent victim of Yeddyurappa’s decision. “If that was Yeddyurappa’s sole decision, who approved Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s visit to Karnataka for Sriramulu’s nomination?” said an upset Yeddyurappa loyalist. “I am a Lingayat and trust me, the past week’s events have put doubt in my mind and many others in the community that BJP high command is not keen to make Yeddyurappa the Chief Minister again.”
For over six months now, BJP has unsuccessfully tried every trick in its campaign book to gain traction. In fact, on many issues, it has given the rope to the Siddaramaiah to gets its hand(s) tied up. On politically significant matters such as Mahadayi river dispute, Karnataka flag, Hindi imposition, rural distress, devolution of 14th Finance Commission, the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission or even Yogi Adityanath presence in Karnataka, BJP has played itself into Siddaramaiah’s hands. Even on minority status to Lingayats, the BJP President was left red-faced when the influential Muruga Mutt seer pulled out a surprise by asking Amit Shah to support the cause when Shah had actually landed in the mutt to seek support to oppose the move.
Even on minority status to Lingayats, the BJP President was left red-faced when the influential Muruga Mutt seer pulled out a surprise by asking Amit Shah to support the cause when Shah had actually landed in the mutt to seek support to oppose the move.
BJP is hoping that Narendra Modi’s last-minute blitzkrieg will push start their campaign, but it is not the first time Narendra Modi is campaigning in Karnataka. He has already done two rounds from October and the last one he addressed was on Yeddyurappa’s birthday on 27th February. The situation on the ground has only gotten tougher for the Party since his visit two months ago.