BJP identifies 4 areas in Karnataka to improve assembly seat tally

Published on Apr 29, 2022 11:19 AM IST

Former chief minister BS Yediyurappa will also have a key role because of his political heft and hold over Lingayats, who account for up to 17% of the electorate

The party will project chief minister Basavaraj Bommai as the “face of the common man”. (PTI)
The party will project chief minister Basavaraj Bommai as the “face of the common man”. (PTI)

NEW DELHI: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has identified four areas where it needs to put in more effort to be able to meet its target of winning 150 of the 224 seats in the Karnataka assembly. The areas have been identified on the basis of feedback from senior leaders deputed to travel across the state to assess the preparations for the 2023 assembly elections.

The party will also project chief minister Basavaraj Bommai as the “face of the common man” in the state but his predecessor BS Yediyurappa will also have a key role because of his political heft and hold over Lingayats, who account for up to 17% of the electorate, said leaders aware of the details.

Earlier this month, the party set up three teams headed by Bommai, state unit president Nalin Kateel and Arun Singh, the national general secretary and in-charge of the state, to visit all assembly constituencies and meet workers to get an insight into the issues that will dominate the election and also assess the preparedness in areas considered as weak spots.

A functionary said the party will redouble efforts in Bengaluru Rural, which has 19 assembly seats and where it did not perform well in the last election. BJP has set a target of winning 13-15 seats in the region. It is also banking on the area’s Vokkaliga leadership.

“We have strong Vokkaliga leadership in the region including [ministers] K Sudhakar, R Ashok, and CN Ashwath Narayan,” said the functionary, requesting anonymity.

The Vokkaligas account for about 15% of the population and can impact the electoral outcome.

On the party’s radar is also Old Mysore, where the party won 13 of the 55 seats in the last election, Bengaluru, where it holds 14 of the 28 seats, and North Karnataka, where it won 16 of the 50 seats.

The gains made in the gram panchayat polls and the by-polls have given the party the confidence that the state government’s popularity has not ebbed.

“In areas such as Hassan and Mandya alone, our growth has been 10-12 times in the past five years. In 2018, we won 18 of the 22 seats in coastal Karnataka,” the functionary said.

The targets were finalised after teams, which included Yediyurappa, former minister Sadananda Gowda, Union minister Pralhad Joshi, and BY Vijayendra, interacted with over 3,000 party workers over 10 days.

“This was a first of its kind initiative where the teams met 150 pramukh karyakartas [prominent workers], district leaders, and MLAs [members of legislative assembly]. The meetings were held in four rounds. There was a core committee, then an interaction with 60-70 leaders, followed by a meeting with the booth workers and finally a one-on-one with some leaders,” said the functionary.

The party has also identified issues around which the election campaign will be designed. “There will be a focus on the central and state government schemes, gareeb kalyan [welfare of the poor] and the CM [chief minister] will be the face of the common man in the state.”

Even as the state has hurtled from one controversy to another, from the Hijab row to a demand for banning halal products, the party has decided to steer the election pitch towards the development agenda. “Our focus will be the development agenda of the double-engine [BJP governments at the Centre and in the state] and the budgetary allocations. The controversies are just the handiwork of the Opposition,” said a second functionary, requesting anonymity.

The Opposition has criticised the government for polarisation in the state. Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw was among those also urged the state government to rein in the rabid fringe.

Arun Singh said they have set the target of winning 150 seats and the BJP is united. “...the party will fight collectively. The Congress, on the other hand, is divided, a leaderless party and the cadre has no faith and trust in Rahul Gandhi.” He blamed the Opposition for creating controversies.

BJP leaders downplayed the issue of corruption that hit headlines as minister K S Eshwarappa was forced to quit after being booked for allegedly abetting the suicide of a contractor. The contractor earlier accused Eshwarappa of seeking a 40% commission.

The BJP did not get a majority on its own in the 2018 elections. It came to power in 2019 following defections from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular).

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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