Karnataka: Bommai shields PM Modi, HM Shah; says BJP's defeat in assembly elections not their fault

Karnataka: Bommai shields PM Modi, HM Shah; says BJP's defeat in assembly elections not their fault

Bommai's comment comes amid talk that Delhi BJP leaders ruined the chances of the party winning a substantial number of seats in the polls, the results of which were announced on Saturday.

Shankar RajUpdated: Sunday, May 14, 2023, 10:25 PM IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah were not to blame for the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) defeat in the Karnataka Assembly elections, caretaker Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Sunday.

Bommai's comment comes amid talk that Delhi BJP leaders ruined the chances of the party winning a substantial number of seats in the polls, the results of which were announced on Saturday.

Will study all reports coming from booths: Bommai

There are several reasons for the party's defeat and “we will study the reports coming from every booth in the next few days”, Bommai said. “After that the party will take corrective measures. We cannot blame individuals for the defeat,” he said.

Bommai admitted that there was a leakage of votes from the Lingayat community, but refused to agree that the community was upset. “We shall examine this issue in depth. Our senior leaders would go into every aspect,” he said.

Over-dominance of Delhi leadership could be a reason for defeat

Meanwhile, senior leaders privately admitted that one of the reasons for BJP’s defeat was the over-dominance of the top leadership from Delhi. “The entire campaigning was hijacked by Delhi and this did not go down well with the voters in Karnataka,” said a BJP leader.

The BJP did not have much to showcase to the public, except the “double engine” that got derailed once it reached Karnataka. Modi did not have any answer on the issues of the runaway price of LPG cylinders, petrol and diesel and the high cost of living that was made worse by corruption.

BL Santhosh being blamed

Anger is also building up against BJP national general secretary BL Santhosh who was responsible for denying tickets to senior leaders Jagadish Shettar and Laxman Savadi. Shettar had lashed out at Santhosh and held him “directly responsible” for being denied a ticket by the BJP, a party he served for more than three decades. He accused Santhosh of “destroying the organisation built by the sweat of lakhs of karyakartas” to fulfil his personal ambitions.

Santhosh was also responsible for giving tickets to new faces in the BJP as part of the generational shift. This backfired badly as only 14 of the 75 new faces the party fielded won.

The BJP’s central leadership decided to implement the Gujarat model of replacing senior legislators who had won multiple times with new faces, following reports from Santhosh.

The ‘no-repeat’ policy had paid off in Gujarat last year, as the BJP won with a thumping majority, and the high command believed that the strategy would be effective in beating anti-incumbency. However, it only triggered dissent and led to an exodus of legislators and defeat in the elections.

Intent of the experiment was good: Narayanaswamy

However, Chalvadi Narayanaswamy, a member of the BJP’s election management committee, supported the move. “The intent of the experiment was good as the party leadership wanted to give an opportunity to youngsters. This is only a temporary setback and the quest for innovation will continue. We will come back with renewed vigour,” he said.

Experiments had begun in 2019 with Bommai replacing BS Yediyurappa as chief minister. However, this resulted in the perception that the Lingayat veteran was being humiliated by the Brahmin lobby, which was thought to be exerting its influence in the party. Fingers were pointed at Brahmin leaders such as Santhosh and Union minister Pralhad Joshi, who was blamed by a section of leaders for eyeing the chief minister's post.

As such, the innovations did not work and instead led to the huge loss the party suffered at the hustings.

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