BJP believes it can make a comeback in Karnataka, win 2019 war

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 20, 2018, 07:43 PM IST

BS Yediyurappa. Photograph:(ANI)

Events in Karnataka may not have gone according to plan, but the BJP believes it can make a comeback, thanks to the inherent contradictions in the Congress-JD(S) alliance in the state.

The likely consolidation of a section of voters, especially Lingayats, behind the BJP would also help keep the party in pole position in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, its leaders said.

"We may have lost the battle, but we will win the war," said a party leader, referring to the next Lok Sabha polls.

The marathon three-day political slugfest in the state culminated in B S Yeddyurappa resigning as chief minister yesterday after he failed to muster the support of seven additional MLAs to ensure he remained in office.

A number of BJP leaders said the party's efforts to form a government in Karnataka were driven by two factors -- first, they believed the people's mandate was in favour of their party.

Second, a government in the state would have bolstered its prospects for political successes in other parts of south India where, barring Karnataka, the saffron party has never posed a serious challenge to its rivals. 

The dramatic collapse of the three-day Yeddyurappa government is being viewed as a setback to the party, with the opposition parties claiming the BJP tried to poach their MLAs but failed miserably. The BJP has denied the allegations.

Though its hopes of forming a government in Karnataka have been thwarted for the time-being, the BJP believes an amalgamation of factors will help it engineer a comeback in the state.

A BJP leader said the JD(S) and the Congress were political rivals, and their alliance was bound to be unsuccessful at the ground level because of the "competing interests" of their support groups.

Bonhomie between the top leaders of two parties may not translate into consolidation of their vote bases, especially when they have always worked against each other. There are inherent contradictions in the alliance, another BJP leader said.

Most of the JD(S) candidates faced Congress nominees as their main rivals in the elections, he said.

The BJP's presence is limited in the Old Mysore region, the Vokkaliga heartland and a JD(S) stronghold. An alliance between two rivals would help the BJP capture more space in the region, he said.

Sources said the BJP believes that the Lingayats and a few other groups will further consolidate behind the party in the wake of the JD(S) and the Congress, two "arch rivals", joining hands to keep it out of power.

The political instability in the state stemmed from a fractured verdict the electorate gave on May 15, with the BJP emerging as the single-largest party but falling short of a majority.

The Congress, which finished second with 78 seats, moved swiftly and stitched an alliance with the 37-member JD(S), and even backed its leader H D Kumaraswamy for chief ministership.

The Congress-JD(S) managed to keep its flock of 117 MLAs together in the 224-member House, with an effective strength of 221, leaving Yeddyurappa with little choice but to put in his papers after giving an emotional speech in the assembly.

The Lingayat leader said the BJP would win all 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state next year, asserting that people's mandate was for his party to form a government.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, the BJP had won 17, the Congress nine and the JD(S) two seats in the state.

BJP president Amit Shah had yesterday said a government of an ''unholy alliance'' was unlikely to last long.