One gets the impression that the BJP, which is fighting the polls for a second consecutive innings in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council, expects the people of the City to have selective memory.
The party does not want the people to recall its scam-ridden five years in the Council, but at the same time seeks to draw all the attention to the “contribution” of the Siddaramaiah government to Bengaluru in the past two years.
Five years of the BJP-led BBMP Council were synonymous with scams – be it the now infamous Rs 1,400-crore fake bill scam, corruption in the award of garbage contracts, remodelling of stormwater drains, among others. However, it is evident from the BJP leaders’ speeches at election rallies and the party manifesto for the August 22 elections that the party does not want to recall its bitter past. No mention is made of its maiden term in the BBMP Council between 2010 and 2015.
The party is also shying away from talking about its contribution to the City’s growth. The election manifesto has just a paragraph which touches upon its performance. At the same time, the saffron party is going at Chief Minister Siddaramaiah hammer and tongs, stating that his government has done nothing for the City in the past two years. It seems to also believe that the repeated efforts of the ruling Congress to stall the polls and divide the BBMP will backfire.
No doubt, Bengaluru has favoured the BJP for the last few years. Despite the severe anti-incumbency in 2013, the party secured 12 of the 27 Assembly seats in Bengaluru. At the parliamentary polls a year later, the party made a clean sweep by bagging all the three Lok Sabha seats - Bengaluru North, South and Central.
This time, too, the BJP is confident it would emerge as the single largest party in the polls. The present delimitation of wards has come to the advantage of the party. Going by the trends of voting in the previous elections, it is seen that the wards with lesser population favour the BJP. In effect, even if the Congress secures more number of the total votes, it will win fewer seats.
The party, like in the last Lok Sabha election campaign, is harping on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image. It believes that chanting the Modi mantra would suffice to retain power. But all is not well in the BJP. There are simmering differences within the party. Senior leaders including Ananth Kumar, D V Sadananda Gowda, are not on good terms with the party election in-charge for the polls R Ashoka, who is said to have imposed himself on the party during candidate selection. Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa has been virtually isolated in the party. He is unhappy that his choice of candidates was not given tickets to contest the polls. He did campaign for the party, but did not associate himself with any top leader.
The party is also blamed for not keeping several of its promises made in the run-up to the 2010 polls. The BJP had promised a monorail network, eight-lane roads at all entry points, a separate power grid for the City - all of which have only remained on paper.
That the BJP should now snatch a victory in the BBMP elections right under the nose of the ruling party is something unprecedented in the political timeline of Bengaluru. The City has always voted for the ruling party in the civic polls.