As Karnataka elections near, BJP goes slow on its Mission-150 claim
When human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar travelled to Karnataka in September last year, he declared that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had raised its target of winning 150 seats in the state assembly elections. “Now, it would be 150-plus,” Javadekar, the BJP’s newly appointed election in-charge, said in Kalaburgi.
Over the next few months, the BJP, slowly but steadily built a narrative around its ‘Mission-150’, with its leaders using related Twitter hashtags and making public statements.
Mission-150 went missing from the BJP’s lexicon as the elections approached and the campaign picked up. While the BJP remains confident of winning the southern state with a “comfortable majority”, winning 150 seats now looks “Mission Impossible”, said two party leaders in Delhi.
There is logic behind the BJP pressing the mute button on Mission-150.
“We got an absolute majority in Gujarat, but our rivals presented it as our defeat as we fell short of the high target that we had set for ourselves. We do not want a repeat in Karnataka,” one of the BJP leaders cited above said, requesting that he not be identified. “We are winning Karnataka with a comfortable margin.”
The BJP won 99 out of 182 assembly seats in Gujarat with a vote share of 50% in the assembly election held in December. It had set a target of winning over 150 seats in Gujarat as well.
Rajya Sabha MP and BJP’s national spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao said the party had never set such a mission for itself in formally in Karnataka. High targets are meant to ensure that workers do not get complacent, he said.
“The BJP always tries to maximise its performance and sets high target to ensure that the party cadre do not become complacent about party’s prospects. Mission-150 was never set as a target in Karnataka,” Rao said.
“While the party always encourages the leadership for higher target, a formal statement was never made on this. It was never an official plan or a target. But, in discussion we always ask out leaders to maximise our chances,” said Rao.
Several opinion polls have predicted a hung house in Karnataka, with the Congress emerging as the single largest party in the 224-member assembly and the Janata Dal (Secular) of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda wining 30-40 seats.
“The Congress is putting up a spirited fight but it will lose like it did in other states,” the second BJP leader cited in the first instance said.
The BJP hopes that the second leg of PM Narendra Modi’s campaign will change the “mood” of the voters and propel the BJP towards a “comfortable majority” in the only southern state that it has ever governed.
Modi started the second round of campaign from May 1 and addressed 21 rallies by the end of Wednesday. Thursday is the last day of the campaign for the May 12 election. The counting will take place on May 15.
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