Haunted by 2013 loss, BJP maps out region-specific strategy

Haunted by 2013 loss, BJP maps out region-specific strategy


The BJP was first among the political parties in Karnataka to start preparing for the 2018 Assembly polls. The party began gearing up its election machinery nearly two years ago by setting up booth committees, as part of its micromanagement poll strategy.

After the humiliating fall from power in 2013, the BJP has moved forward, with its two splinter groups — the KJP and the BSR Congress — back in its fold. The party is now looking at tapping the “anti-incumbency” factor against the ruling Congress for electoral gains. Much before the poll bugle was sounded, the BJP adopted different agenda and strategies for different regions.

In Bombay-Karnataka, where the Lingayats have a dominant presence, the BJP has been aggressively projecting its chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa, who hails from the community.

Despite Siddaramaiah‘s efforts to split the BJP’s Lingayat vote share by proposing to grant them a ‘minority religion’ tag, the saffron party hopes that the community will stand by it.

In the communally-sensitive Coastal Karnataka, the BJP has been actively pursuing its Hindutva plank. It launched a campaign accusing the Congress government of inaction against the killing of Hindu activists.

The Hyderabad-Karnataka region, which comprises the districts of Bidar, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Ballari and Koppal, has been a worrying point for the BJP, where it won only five of the 40 seats in the 2013 polls.

The absence of any prominent leader and lack of a strong organisational base in the region prompted BJP president Amit Shah to persistently goad the local unit of the party to become electorally aggressive and intensify its campaign to reach out to the voters. In Bengaluru Urban, which accounts for 28 Assembly seats, the BJP has focused on its development agenda. The party has been using infrastructure woes in the state capital and the non-utilisation of funds provided by the NDA government as a poll issue besides taking credit for sanctioning projects like the suburban rail.

The Old Mysore region, where the party has been unable to make any major inroads, still remains a tough nut to crack for the party.

Across the state, Shah put in place his micromanagement poll strategy by giving tasks to party legislators, functionaries and workers, such as setting up of booth committees, compilation of booth-wise past election statistics, list of key voters, list of bikers for rallies, list of smartphone users for WhatsApp outreach programme among others.

In the run-up to the polls, the BJP had at least nine ongoing simultaneous election campaigns — targeting almost every segment of the electorate from farmers
to techies to the urban voter.