It was about a year ago that the BJP was hopeful that the Karnataka elections would be a cakewalk for the party, thanks to Yeddyurappa. And if any doubts cropped up, the situation would be handled effectively by party national president Amit Shah. But now there are doubts about whether even Shah can pull off this election – slated for May 12. And therefore, the hopes have been pinned on prime minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP now wants Modi to do a rerun of the final phase of elections in Gujarat held in December last year in Karnataka and revive the chances of the party to secure a win in this very crucial election, a year ahead of the general elections. There are 10 to 15 public rallies lined up for Modi in the state during the final leg of the Karnataka election campaign which would start during the last week of April. There are even efforts to increase the number of rallies for Modi, according to sources.
It has been over a month and a half that Modi had come to Karnataka after he had made five visits to Karnataka in the run-up to the election. This absence has resulted in demands from the party to undertake what some call a “final blitzkrieg” by Modi.
But why did Yeddyurappa and Shah manage to loose the plot?
Yeddyurappa is a liability as well as an asset for the BJP in Karnataka. He carries a legacy of huge corruption charges in the mining scam forcing him to quit office as chief minister in 2011. He even went to jail for 21 days even though he was later acquitted by the courts. But that incident had an impact on 2013 Karnataka assembly elections which BJP lost. This makes the task of leading the BJP to victory again a tough ask for him, especially if corruption is made into a major election issue by him.
However, his Lingayat antecedents is an asset for the BJP because the community has a significant presence in a number of seats. BJP is at risk of partially loosing out on the vote bank – accounting for about 15 per cent of the entire population, even though they were traditionally BJP supporters because of granting of separate religion status to Lingayats by chief minister Siddaramaiah. However, a significant part of the votes can be expected to be brought in by Yeddyurappa. This makes him an asset for the BJP. Without him however, BJP has little chance of garnering the votes.
Shah had reportedly been bent on taking care of the nuts and bolts of the BJP in the state while Yeddyurappa could lead the campaign at the local level. He had reportedly planned on making the corruption of the Siddaramaiah government the main issue and obtaining the Lingayat votes at the same time.
However, Yeddyurappa never managed to set off the anti-corruption crusade. And even though there is wide spread perception about the corrupt nature of the Siddaramaiah government, nether the local BJP nor Yeddyurappa could unearth any major scam that could nail the Congress in Karnataka.
Additionally, the Hindutva card does not appear to be gaining much traction in the state.
Further, Shah is an expert in election organization but not a crowd puller. And Yeddyurappa has been unable to lead the election campaign as had been expected.
And therefore, there appears to be no way but to rely on Modi to deliver the killer punch for the BJP in the Karnataka election.
(Adapted from FirstPost.com)