BJP gears up for Karnataka poll battle; Amit Shah to lead saffron charge

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, December 13: Fresh from the record victory in the Gujarat Assembly elections, Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah is setting out to take charge of the poll preparations of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka. The state Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is likely to soon be in a huddle with Shah for poll assessment in the national capital.

The BJP top brass, sources said, has turned its focus on Karnataka, with ground assessments being collected from independent sources by the saffron outfit. Shah will take stock of the political situation in Karnataka in his meeting with Bommai, sources added.

The BJP leadership is learnt to be taking a hard look at Karnataka on account of the party’s loss in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. While Congress was decimated in the Gujarat Assembly elections, with its vote share dropping from 41 per cent in 2017 to just 23 per cent, the party romped home in Himachal Pradesh. Congress was successful in negative ‘Riwaz badlenge (tradition will change)’ slogan of the BJP on the basis of the party’s organizational strength.

Sources in the BJP said that the ruling party in Karnataka will have to match up to the organizational strength of Congress, which remains strong on the ground. Shah had also closely helmed the Karnataka Assembly elections in 2017, but the party could not cross the half way mark in the state Assembly, with the party leaders then having claimed that some of the strategies which were worked out by the top leadership could not be executed on the grounds. “Shah will not allow this time for the strategies to remain on paper and they will begin being executed in time,” said a senior BJP functionary.

The BJP had claimed to have gained from the ‘pro-incumbency’ wave in retaining power after the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur early this year. However, Himachal Pradesh denied the ‘pro-incumbency’ run of the saffron outfit. However, the BJP had run into Congress in Himachal Pradesh in a two-way elections, as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had abandoned the election campaign much before the announcement of the poll dates in the hilly state. The BJP is hoping that Karnataka will remain a three-way contest and Congress and the JD (S) may not be able to stitch a pre-poll alliance in the state.

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