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BJP’s Karnataka calculation: 2013 poll arithmetic and return of 2 leaders

While Karnataka remains a three-cornered contest, like it was in 2013 and 2014, analysts say the BJP cannot be sure of victory with the return of the two leaders.

Karnataka Elections 2018 Updated: Apr 18, 2018 16:33 IST
Kumar Uttam
PM Narendra Modi presents a memento to Karnataka state BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa during 'Parivarthana Rally' in Bangalore on February 4, 2018.
PM Narendra Modi presents a memento to Karnataka state BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa during 'Parivarthana Rally' in Bangalore on February 4, 2018.(AFP File Photo)

The BJP believes it can stop the Congress from winning a majority in the Karnataka assembly elections next month and emerge much stronger than it did in the last polls in 2013 because of the return of BS Yeddyurappa and B Sreeramulu to its fold, two leading politicians of the party said.

The electoral “arithmetic” now weighs in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s favour, they said.

“The two elections are different. But, BSY and Sreeramulu add strength to the party. The BJP benefitted in the Lok Sabha election with their return,” a party general secretary said on the condition of anonymity.

Former chief minister Yeddyurappa and former state minister Sreeramulu rejoined the BJP in 2014 and have been fielded in the assembly elections this time as the saffron party’s candidates.

Yeddyurappa led the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) and Sreeramulu the Badavara Shramikara Raitara Congress (BSR Congress) in the 2013 elections won by the Congress.

Both are currently members of Parliament.

The arithmetic in question is based on a seat-by-seat analysis of the 2013 assembly election results. It shows that the two leaders, who left the BJP in 2012, inflicted severe damage on the saffron party, unseated it from power and brought down its tally to 40 seats in 224-member assembly.

The BJP could have won at least 68 seats – 28 up from its actual tally – had it received the votes the KGP won.

The KJP won six seats and put together, the BJP’s final tally could have gone up to 74. Such a situation would have stopped the Congress short of a majority, bringing its tally from 122 to 100 seats.

If the votes won by the BSR Congress were added to its own, the BJP’s tally could have gone up to 80 seats. This is apart from the four seats that the BSR Congress won.

“These two leaders were responsible, to a great extent, for the BJP’s defeat in the last election,” Harish Ramaswamy, a political science professor at Karnataka University, Dharwad, said.

A separate analysis of the 2014 Lok Sabha election results shows that the BJP won 133 assembly segments in Karnataka, more than the 76 won by the Congress and 15 by the Janata Dal (Secular) of HD Kumaraswamy.

While Karnataka remains a three-cornered contest, like it was in 2013 and 2014, analysts say the BJP cannot be sure of victory with the return of the two leaders.

“There is a delay on the part of the BJP to take on Sidddaramaiah on several governance issues. The BJP is not as vibrant as it was in 2014 or before that,” Karnataka University’s Ramaswamy said.

“Even there is no clarity how the Lingayats, Karnataka’s most dominant community, are going to respond to the Congress government’s bid to grant them a separate religion status,” he added.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh said in an interview last week that the Congress had rejected a proposal to grant Lingayats the status of a separate religious group five years ago, adding that recognising as such would amount to breaking up society.

“We won’t do politics of breaking the society. The Congress government rejected this proposal in 2013,” he said.

Another BJP office bearer, who requested anonymity, said party president Amit Shah had sent out a clear signal to Karnataka leaders that they need to remain united and avoid public feuds, which have set back the party in the past.

KEY FACTS
  • Congress polled 15 million votes, BJP 6.24 million, KJP 3.07 million and BSR Congress Party 845,000 votes in the 2013 assembly election.
  • KJP won six seats and finished second in 35 others and BSR Congress got four and was runner-up in three others.
  • BJP’s tally would have increased to 68–from its final tally of 40–if KJP votes were added to it. This does not include the six seats that KJP won. Together, it would have added up to 74 seats.
  • BJP could have won at least 80 seats if BSR Congress Party’s votes were added to its kitty. This does not include four seats that the BSR Congress Party won.
  • The assembly-wise results of the 2014 parliamentary polls show BJP won 133 out of the total 224 assembly segments, ahead of the Congress (76) and the JDS (15 seats).