Byelection buoyancy fuels BJP’s 'South' ambitions

Byelection buoyancy fuels BJP’s 'South' ambitions

After a big win of 12 seats in the byelections, the BJP is hopeful of expanding its base substantially even in south Karnataka, which has been its weak spot.

The party feels that with JD(S) chief H D Deve Gowda ageing (86 years) and internal dissent in Congress, where Siddaramaiah is not acceptable to veterans like Mallikarjun Kharge (77 years), who themselves are becoming less relevant due to age, the disillusioned lot from both parties will join the saffron party.

“If people from conventionally weak regions join us, there will be no friction in the BJP over it. Rather, it strengthens the party,” a senior leader said.

He cited the case of Umesh Jadhav, who defeated Kharge in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Gulbarga constituency by over 95,000 votes, the first defeat of the latter in his five-decade-long career.

In the last Assembly election, BJP’s Preetham Gowda had won the Hassan seat, a forte of the JD(S). However, the victory was then considered an isolated victory.

The party functionary said whenever a party leader wins from a non-stronghold region, it helps in expanding the party’s footprints.

Victory of turncoats

This time, two turncoats — K C Narayan Gowda and K Sudhakar, who joined the BJP recently, won from the JD(S) stronghold KR Pete in Mandya district, a Vokkaliga bastion, and Congress stronghold Chikkaballapur.

The role of 37-year-old Preetham was significant in the KR Pete victory. Gowda, Sudhakar and Preetham hail from the Vokkaliga community.

In Chikkaballapur, the BJP had got 3% votes in 2018. It secured over 48% votes this time. In KR Pete, BJP’s vote share rose to nearly 40% from around 5.6%.

Lingayats’ tallest leader B S Yediyurappa is credited with BJP’s rise in the state. Lingayats constitute 14% of Karnataka’s population, while Vokkaligas form 11%.

Siddaramaiah, who experimented with ‘Ahinda’ (an umbrella of OBC, Minoritiis and Dalits) politics is on the backfoot after the byelection.

“We won two seats for the first time, in the byelections. We are hopeful that with more leaders from these two parties joining us, we will expand further.

H D Kumaraswamy, after the fall of his government, cannot hold the same influence in his party. Siddaramaiah will also not be that important in Congress,” said the functionary.

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