Who is the Shah of BJP in Karnataka?

It is said that success has too many claimants while failure is nobody’s child. Going by this adage, there should have been many in the BJP claiming credit for its performance in the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka. But for a change, the situation is not so.

Every candidate in the state took shelter under the Modi umbrella to fight the polls. The candidates merrily and wantonly used the Moditwa and Hindutwa cards floated by the party’s PM nominee. There may not be any exception for this though some including B S Yeddyurappa, Ananth Kumar and B Sriramulu probably have been elected partly on their own strength.

But the moot question is despite the onslaught of Moditwa across the country, why the BJP could not improve its tally in Karnataka compared to the 2009 LS elections? There was no pro BJP, pro Hindu or pro corporate poster boy wave in 2009. The BJP stood first in the seats tally by securing 19 seats leaving just 6 to the Congress and 3 to the JD(S) 3.  After five years, the saffron party has secured 17, leaving 9 to the Congress and 2 to the JD(S).

How could one term the performance of the BJP? The half-glass full or half glass empty theory holds good here. The BJP can argue that it was routed in the 2013 Assembly elections and its candidates had forfeited deposit in 110 Assembly constituencies. The party has resurrected in a year’s time as it fought the polls as a team after the return of Yeddyurappa, could be the argument of the state leaders. They also know that they can’t escape from giving credit to Modi.

It may also project the vote share chart to buttress its argument that it has performed best among all the parties, in the State. The BJP’s vote share is 43 %, the Congress’ 40.8 % and the JD (S) 11 %. The BJP’s vote share is 2.2 pc more than its nearest rival.  It is also a fact that the BJP’s best-ever performance in terms of vote share in Parliamentary elections is in 2014. But while arguing so the increased voting percentage should be factored. The voting percentage was 67.28 pc, the third highest in the parliamentary election history in Karnataka.

A total of 2.4 million new voters have been added compared to the Assembly elections in 2013. Besides all these hard facts, the BJP should make some wise comparison too.
Why it failed to improve its tally compared to the previous polls despite the presence of Modi?
Was there not even one charismatic state leader who could have given a spin to the performance of the party in terms of seats?

The BJP has stunned the country by its performance in Uttar Pradesh and Maharshtra. It sent everyone into tizzy by winning 71 seats of the 80 seats where the ruling party is the Samajwadi Party. The BJP’s previous peak performance was in the 1998 elections when it had bagged 57 seats.

It was Amit Shah, Modi’s Man Friday, who harnessed the Modi wave to the hilt for the party’s gain in UP. The Shah and Modi combination ensured that the regional parties were rejected in the national elections. In a state like UP where caste matrix work too well, the BSP could not even open account. The saffronisation of UP is to such an extent that the BJP’s vote share has surged to 42 % from 15 % in 2012. Yes. The Modi wave turned into a tsunami causing disaster for other parties in UP.

In Maharashtra, there were no Shahs. Still, the vote swing in favour the BJP-Shiv Sena-Swabhiman Paksha alliance is 15.03 %, and the total vote share is 50.02 %.  The BJP has won 23 seats followed by the Sena 18, Congress 2 and NCP 4 (vote share 34.1 %)Five years ago, the ruling combination of the Congress-NCP had a vote share of 38.89 pc (25 seats) and the BJP-Sena had 35.17 pc (20 seats).

So, going by the performance of UP and Maharashtra, the BJP’s performance in Karnataka is nothing to crow about. The reasons are many as to why the BJP can only draw a solace but can’t boast about its performance. The party unit here needs a leader who is good at arithmetic, work smart and hard, ready to take calculative risks and more than anything find avenues to spread its foot prints across the state.

The BJP, despite emerging as the number one party in terms of tally and vote share, the State leaders have lot to introspect. Yeddyurappa, after resounding victory in Shimoga, had said that the results have come as a wake-up call for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. While warning so, the senior leader should also introspect whether 17 lotus’ could have bloomed but for Modi wave. Modi had paid special attention to Karnataka by addressing not less than 20 rallies to recharge the party’s cadre and followers.

During the campaign, it was observed that there was no leader who could go across the state to improve the poll prospects of his fellow party colleague in the fray. Of course, Yeddyurappa and Ananth Kumar did tour to certain extent. As they themselves were the candidates, they could not dedicate too much time for campaigning across the state.

Among the hand picked candidates of Yeddyurappa, only to lose the battle was G S Basavaraj in Tumkur. Of  the 17 BJP MPs, 7 are Lingayat. This shows the influence of Yeddyurappa over Lingayat voting population, which is not less than 17 pc of the total voting population.

So, isn’t time for the party to scout and a nurture a leader who can manage the party at micro level? One of the mass leaders in Karnataka is Yeddyurappa. He has proved lucky charm for the party this time too. Modi had reportedly told his party that he would like to have ministers who can work well in elections too. If this is true, then Yeddyurappa would be his natural choice. But it is to be seen whether Modi would only keep electoral gains as the focal point or keep men of clean image in public life as his lieutenants. 

In case Yeddyurappa goes on to become a minister, then his availability in the state would be scarce. The party should hunt for a Shah who can do the floor management well in case it is keen to strengthen the party in real sense.

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