After Karnataka rout, BJP leaders in huddle for a review | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

After Karnataka rout, BJP leaders in huddle for a review

May 15, 2023 01:27 AM IST

The BJP is holding meetings to identify reasons for their defeat in the Karnataka assembly polls

A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a rout in the Karnataka assembly polls, senior party leaders said on Sunday that they have begun to hold meetings to identify reasons for the defeat, even as different factions of the state leadership listed a number of factors -- from BS Yediyurappa’s removal as chief minister in 2021 to a failure to read the mood on the ground to poor choice of candidates.

The BJP fielded 72 new faces and had to deal with the ire of rebels who were denied tickets (Narendra Modi Twitter)(HT_PRINT)
The BJP fielded 72 new faces and had to deal with the ire of rebels who were denied tickets (Narendra Modi Twitter)(HT_PRINT)

The BJP’s tally in the 224-member assembly fell from 104 to 66 in the results declared on Saturday. Chief minister Basavraj Bommai, who submitted his resignation to the governor on Saturday evening, said on Sunday that the party would do an “in-depth” analysis to course-correct ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year.

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“We had an informal meeting with our president and we have discussed certain issues and we will shortly call elected representatives and the people who contested,” Bommai said.

A senior Delhi-based BJP leader said the leadership is set to meet over the next week to assess the results, and to take forward the process of identifying the leader of Opposition in the Karnataka assembly.

“Most of the state leaders are still in their respective constituencies and the process of stock-taking will begin in a couple of days,” the leader added on condition of anonymity.

He did concede that it is possible the party unit, helmed by state president Nalin Kumar Kateel, would undergo a rejig.

“The rejig is a possibility as the party will need to make changes for the preparation for the Lok Sabha polls. There could be a new set of office-bearers,” the leader said. In 2014, the party won 17 of 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state and the tally increased to 25 in 2019.

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There is a section within the party that said on Sunday that while they had been damaged by anti-incumbency, there were unresolved leadership issues at the state level that were not settled ahead of the polls. In the run-up to the elections, a second BJP leader said, there was a petition by a section of the state brass to replace Kateel, who has had a three-year term.

On his part, Kateel tweeted on Saturday, “As the state president, I own responsibility. We will introspect on the reasons for this result.”

“The bottom line is that the BJP failed to read the mood on the ground and the anger against the sitting MLAs. The fact that over a dozen ministers have lost shows the extent of public anger against the government. There are leaders in the state who feel that (BL) Santhosh, the organisational general secretary, could not convey the need to undertake a complete overhaul while deciding tickets,” a third BJP leader said.

To be sure, the BJP fielded 72 new faces and had to deal with the ire of rebels who were denied tickets, with ex-CM Jagadish Shettar and former deputy CM Laxman Savadi being the most notable exits on this count.

On Saturday, a BJP leader told HT that the decision to pivot the campaign on national issues instead of local ones was a wrong call and that the party paid the price for replacing BS Yediyurappa with Bommai in 2021. Veerendra Patil, who is the president of the BJP in Shikaripura, from where Yediyurappa’s son Vijayendra contested and won, said, “In Shikaripura, we have the support of all the communities. But in other parts of the state, it (the move to replace Yediyurappa) has brought down the BJP’s Lingayat votes.” The Congress benefited from this.

Political analyst Chambi Puranik said, “Yediyurappa was a tall Lingayat leader who could mobilise all Lingayats. BJP as a party has never got full majority. Making him resign and then using Bommai to placate him was detrimental to the party.”

The Congress also picked the right issues, another BJP lawmaker from the state said.

N Ravikumar, a BJP MLC, said the Congress’ promises made to the public that included free electricity, bus passes for women, a welfare scheme for the woman head of every household and free foodgrain, coupled with allegations of corruption against the BJP leveraged through the labels “40% sarkara” and “PayCM” , struck a chord with the people of Karnataka.

This was made worse, leaders said, by the arrest of BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa and his son in a bribery case by the Karnataka Lokayukta on the cusp of the elections. “The corruption issue was used extensively by the Congress and they made sure it reached the people,” Ravikumar added.

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