Karnataka Poll: BJP goes all guns blazing; first sign of Opposition unity appears
By Manish Anand
New Delhi, April 30: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would have been much relieved if the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had repeated the party’s aggressive Gujarat campaign in the Karnataka Assembly elections. India’s newest national party had made a stunning entry in the Gujarat election last year to eat away Congress votes to help the BJP gain an unprecedented victory in the western state.
Months ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections, the AAP had spread the party infrastructure in the state. The Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit had seen an enthusiastic response from the willing newcomers in politics to take a political plunge. The party even had its prospective candidates working on the ground in anticipation of the AAP making its southern foray.
But the AAP scaled down the party’s Karnataka ambitions. This, said the informed sources, during the Parliament logjam during the Budget session when the Opposition parties were holding parleys to find ways to bury hatchets to take on the common enemy – the BJP. Divided they had least chances of survivals was the message hammered to the Opposition leaders, including those from the AAP.
If the AAP had been aggressive, the party could have cut into the vote base of Congress and the JD (S), not substantially but even a small percentage would have made a big difference in the outcome of the polls. “Karnataka Assembly election is headed for a three-front contest, with least scope of the division of the votes. The JD (S) has its catchment area in a certain part of Karnataka. Elsewhere, the BJP has to square up with Congress. The BJP is without the advantage of the vote split as was the case in Gujarat,” said a Karnataka-based political observer.
Incidentally, the Trinamool Congress also had entertained an idea, fed by a well-known election strategist, to enter Karnataka with the help of celebrity names from all walks of life. But West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee abandoned the idea following differences with the election strategist.
Evidently, Congress is drawing confidence in Karnataka that there is no spoiler for the party in the state which has never voted an incumbent government back to power since 1983. With writing on the wall clear, the BJP is now going all guns blazing in the last nine days of campaigning in the state, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the show. The BJP is clearly eager to demonstrate that the Himachal Pradesh election loss against the electoral trend similar to Karnataka is not repeated on May 10.