Bengaluru: The Karnataka bypoll results declared on Tuesday have come as a big blow for the BJP and a shot in the arm for anti-BJP coalition strategy. If one could be brutally frank, this signals the downfall of the BJP in Karnataka. These results are not just straws in the wind, but a clear indication of the direction in which the wind is blowing against the BJP in Karnataka – the first state below the Vindhyas where the saffron brigade once hoisted its flag just a decade ago.
BJP’s downfall can be gauged from the defeat the party suffered in Ballari Lok Sabha constituency where the party’s J Shantha was trounced by VS Ugrappa, an outsider. Ballari was BJP’s stronghold for over 15 year and a fiefdom of the powerful Reddy brothers who recycled money from mining to politics.
The credit for Ballari victory solely belongs to DK Shivkumar, the campaign manager of the Congress and a trouble shooter for the high command. In fact, DKS has emerged taller as a political leader and strategist after the Ballari win. He chose the right candidate despite initial murmurs. Ugrappa proved to be more than a match for Shantha. So, will DKS aim for a bigger post in the government, possibly the CM one day? He has not ruled it out.
The second indication of BJP’s downfall has come from Shivamogga Lok Sabha constituency – a bastion of State party president BS Yeddyurappa. Here, Yeddyurappa’s son BS Raghavendra won by a low margin of just 47,000 plus votes over Madhu Bangarappa of the JD(S). The margin indicates that the BJP has lost a whopping 2.5 lakh votes in its own heartland. The BJP would have been defeated here too but for the fact that the JD(S) chose its candidate at the last moment giving him just a couple of weeks to campaign.
The election results are a loss of face for the BJP’s so-called strongman Yeddyurappa. Moreover, the BJP does not have a leader who can attract the youth and new voters. In the third LS constituency of Mandya, the BJP knew that it had no chance as this was a strong Vokalliga belt under the grip of the JD(S). Here LR Sivarame Gowda of JD(S) trounced BJP Dr Siddarmaiah by a record margin even surpassing the record once held by actor Ambareesh of the Congress.
In the two Assembly segments of Ramnagara and Jamkhandi too, the BJP did not put up a fight as these were strongholds of the JD(S) and Congress respectively. The BJP suffered an ignominy when its candidate withdrew at the last moment and joined the Congress. The BJP did not put its heart into these seats as Yeddyurappa was busy campaigning for his son. The other BJP leaders just stayed away.
The results are as much a win for the strategy of Ghatbandhans or coalition. The message from Karnataka for the Opposition at the national level: Stick together and form anti-BJP alliances at national and state levels. Do not fight for seats, be ready for compromises. Give more seats for the local dominant parties.That is what the JD(S) and Congress did in Karnataka. In places where the JD(S) was perceived strong, the Congress conceded the seat.