Karnataka Poll: Blames pour against BL Santhosh for BJP rout

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, May 13: Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have begun blaming the party’s national general secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh for the rout in the state Assembly election. Santhosh is being accused of creating disaffection in the rank and files of the Karnataka unit of the BJP with his “reckless political decisions”.

“Out of the 72 new candidates fielded by the BJP in the Karnataka Assembly elections, not even four are winning. Santhosh has taken the BJP in Karnataka to the electoral grave,” said a top ranking Karnataka-based BJP leader.

The BJP had denied tickets to several sitting legislators, including veteran Lingayata leaders Jagdish Shettar and Laxman Savadi, as part of the experiment to field young candidates to bless generational shift in the leadership in the state politics. The experiment was endorsed by the top brass of the BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah.

“Santhosh totally misread the Karnataka politics. His biggest folly was in making the top brass of the BJP believe that Karnataka politics is just like Gujarat where the party could summarily dismiss veteran leaders from electoral politics,” said another top ranking Karnataka-based BJP leader.

Santhosh had first scripted the leadership change in Karnataka by replacing party veteran BS Yediyurappa as Chief Minister, who in turn anointed Basavaraj Bommai as his successor when the state Assembly election was just 20 months away. “Santhosh kept meddling in the affairs of the Karnataka BJP, and even sought to belittle Bommai by keeping him on tenterhooks as the state media was planted with stories of leadership change in Karnataka on a regular basis,” added the BJP functionary.

Sources said that Bommai and Yediyurappa had no roles in the selection of candidates in the Karnataka Assembly elections. “Karnataka is not Gujarat. Eighteen of the 25 MLAs from Bengaluru are veterans who have been winning elections for several terms. Similar is the case in several of the Assembly constituencies in the state. When the state is a fertile ground for seasoned politicians who have nursed and cultivated their own territories, how could Santhosh be not aware of the uniqueness of the state politics,” said the BJP functionary.

Ironically, the BJP was the last to announce candidates in Karnataka, and the party is said to depend on multiple ground-based surveys, which are outsourced to independent agencies, for candidate selection. The Central BJP had sought to fan the argument that fielding over 72 new faces, including over 60 with less than 50 years of age, would mobilise the party cadres, who in turn will help the saffron outfit in beating the anti-incumbency factor against the Bommai government.         

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