Ahead of elections, Joshi has his hands full

The newly appointed State BJP President Pralhad Joshi finds himself at the helm of affairs at a time when the State unit of the party is on the downslide -  an aftermath of internal squabbles, fights for oneupmanship and corruption charges against several of its legislators.

At the organisational front, the morale of the party workers is low with a kind of defeatist mentality having crept into the cadre, especially after the ULB polls.
 There are apprehensions in certain quarters within the BJP whether Joshi, who has rich RSS background and does not enjoy a state-wide appeal within the party, would be able to assert himself and take the party out of the mess that it finds itself in.

Joshi will also have to assert himself and prove his detractors wrong that he is a ‘puppet’ installed by senior leader H N  Ananth Kumar.

Some in the party term Joshi as a good organiser. He is not argumentative or speak brashly unlike his predecessor K S Eshwarappa.

Perhaps, this could be one of the factors to make Joshi the president. Joshi, a Brahmin, is a second-time MP, hailing from the home district of Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar - Dharwad. It is also said that the appointment is made keeping the next Lok Sabha elections in view rather than expecting him to gear up the party in the next 43 days to face the Assembly elections.

The party, which is already branded as a Brahmin and Lingayat party, should have made a conscious effort to make a leader belonging to backward classes or SC/ST or Vokkaliga to head the party.

Though such effort would not have altered the poll prospects of the party, it would have helped the party candidates in non-BJP areas. A person with good oratory skills, clean image as well as giving fitting replies to jibes of the opponents was the need of the hour, sources said.

But, the party seems to be making a Herculean effort to ‘cleanse the party’ rather than focussing too much on retaining power, sources in the party said.
Joshi will face his first major challenge on Saturday when he presides over the party’s core committee meeting to shortlist candidates for the May 5 Assembly polls.

The party, which has seen the exit of B S Yeddyurappa and B Sriramulu, now finds itself faced with further desertions by legislators waiting for openings in the Congress. As many as 14 legislators have already quit the BJP to join B S Yeddyurappa’s KJP. 

There will be pulls from first rung leaders in the party to issue ‘B’ forms to their candidates. Joshi will have before him the twin task of keeping in mind the long term prospects of the party and at the same time ensure that the party’s image is not dented further in the Assembly polls.

Being a Hubli man, Joshi will have to show his influence over voters at least in the Bagalkot, Bijapur, Bellary and Haveri, where the party did not do well in the ULB polls.

In the 2008 Assembly elections, the BJP had secured 25 of the 30 seats in these four districts.

Joshi will be officially taking charge as party president at the BJP State office in Bangalore on Saturday.

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