BJP's plank beats Congress slogan | india | Hindustan Times
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BJP's plank beats Congress slogan

The Bharatiya Janata Party's three-point poll plank - 'betrayal, inflation, terrorism' - has thrashed the Congress' virtual one-point agenda of 'stability' in Karnataka.

india Updated: May 25, 2008 15:07 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party's three-point poll plank - 'betrayal, inflation, terrorism' - has thrashed the Congress' virtual one-point agenda of 'stability' in Karnataka.

The redrawing of assembly constituencies giving more seats to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, considered to be traditional Congress supporters, has not helped the pa0rty to reap the benefit it expected.

The BJP had emerged as the single largest party in 2004 with 79 of the 224 seats in the assembly but the Congress with 65 seats joined hands with Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), which won 58 seats to form a coalition.

The reason cited then was that "communal forces" need to be kept away from power. The BJP had termed Karnataka as its "gateway to south".

The Congress-JD-S marriage did not last long. In January/February 2006, HD Kumaraswamy walked out with more than 40 JD-S legislators to align with the BJP, giving the BJP a taste of power for the first time in Karnataka and in the south.

Kumaraswamy, a first time member of the legislative assembly, became chief minister on the condition that he would make way for BJP's BS Yediyurappa after 20 months.

But he, aided by his father and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, did not keep his word. However, he went back to the BJP after the Congress decided not to ally with his party again.

BJP's VS Yediyurappa was sworn in as chief minister Nov 12 but was forced to resign a week later as the JD-S withdrew support, giving the BJP a highly emotive issue of 'betrayal' to cash in on.

To its horror, the BJP found that elections were not going to be held early and it was apprehensive that as time wears on, the sympathy factor may weaken.

The Congress made 'stability' its main poll plank. But this only seems to have helped the BJP to re-kindle the sympathy factor by playing on the 'betrayal' by the JD-S.

The sudden spurt in food prices did nothing to help the Congress. It was forced on the defensive on the issue.

The BJP's campaign on the price rise seems to have paid dividends. The party used senior leader Sushma Swaraj's felicity with Kannada language to deadly effect.

The TV campaign had Sushma telling people in Kannada how much rice, dal and cooking oil cost now and criticising the Congress failure to check rising prices.

The ads showed a housewife giving a list of food items needed to the husband who in turn exclaims: "Where is the money to buy them?" The ads show children crying asking for food.

On terrorism, the campaign of the Congress and the BJP appears to have crossed each other out as both mocked the other's claim to fight terrorism and highlighting the terror attacks that took place when they were in power.

The BJP also poked fun at the Congress for failing to project anyone as chief minister while it had announced Yediyurappa as its nominee.

Senior leader LK Advani referred to this failure almost at every meeting. He would ask: "When Congress comes seeking votes, ask them who is their captain?"

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was in his elements while taking on the Congress for criticising state BJP leaders for saying that they will follow the Gujarat model in Karnataka.

"Dum hai Congress mein bolne ke liye weh Gujarat jaisa development-oriented shaasan deyenge! ((Does the Congress have the courage to say they will provide the Gujrat-type development oriented government?)," he ask at meetings to the applause of the crowd.

The JD-S strategy to project itself as a regional party came a cropper. It is set to lose nearly half of the 58 seats it own in 2004.