BJP's systematic growth in Karnataka

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Bangalore, May 30: It had been a patient wait for the Bharatiya Janata Party to form a government of its own in Karnataka though its destiny with the State commenced way back in 1983. The 25-year long wait had enabled the lotus bloom for the first time in Southern India when 66-year-old B S Yedyurappa's 30 member ministry was sworn-in office by Governor Rameshwar Thakur here today.

Though the party failed to get absolute majority and missed the target by mere three seats securing 110 seats in the 13th Assembly, it garnered support from all six independents to form the new government. In fact, after extended political drama and tough haggling with the Janata Dal (Secular) which failed to keep its contracted coalition, the BJP formed a government on November 12 last year with Mr Yeddyurappa as Chief Minsiter and the JD(s) agreeing to join it.

However, Mr Yeddyurappa, after being a 'Saath Din Ka Sultan' demitted the office during the course of a discussion on confidence motion in the Assembly following JD(S) deciding to vote against the Government on November 19. Earlier, the BJP, which decided to form the coalition government after the JD(S) pulled down the Dharam Singh led coalition government after 20 months of rule in 2006, withdrew support to the Kumaraswamy led government after the JD(S) failed to transfer power to the saffaron party for the remaining 20 months term of the State Assembly in October.

It had been a steady growth for the saffron party in Karnataka for which Mr Yeddyurappa should take a lion's share of the credit, though disillusioned with the intra-party squabbles, had once thought of quitting the BJP last year, but wiser counsel prevailed upon him not to do so to enable him fulfil his dream.

The chequered history of the BJP in Karnataka has been full of pitfalls and successes and the party was instrumental in the first ever non Congress government assuming power in the state in 1983 when the late Ramakrisha Hegde led Janata Party assumed power. The JP could muster only 95 seats and the BJP, led by A K Subbaiah, which had then secured 18 seats offered unconditional support to the Janata Party to keep the Congress, which fared miserably at the hustings, away from power. The BJP was not keen on joining the government and chose to extend support from outside.

But the BJP-Janata honeymoon did not last long as the Hegde government crumbled within two years following a telephone tapping allegation of the Congress involving former Chief Minister Veerappa Moily.

The BJP, which secured 7.93 per cent of the popular votes in 1983 for its 18 seats from 110 it contested, saw a down swing in the subsequent 1985 elections when it could win only two seats from the 116 it had contested. The party's vote base also truncated to 3.88 per cent.

In 1989 it saw a marginal increase in its presence in the Assembly with the party getting four seats out of the 118 it contested and the vote base saw a slight increase at 4.14 per cent.

The BJP's ascendency in the state began in the subsequent elections when in 1994 for the first time it secured 40 seats with its vote share nearly quadrupling to 16.99 per cent. It never looked back and in the subsequent election in 1999 when the Congress bounced back to power under the leadership of former Chief Minister S M Krishna, it made further inroads to increase its tally in the Assembly to 44 with its popular votes crossing the 20 per cent mark (20.69 per cent).

The party emerged as the single largest unit in the 2004 elections when it won 79 seats with a vote share of 28.33 per cent pushing Congress to the second spot with only 65 seats and the Janata Dal(S) got 58 seats. The JD(U) which contested in alliance with the BJP secured six. However, the JD(S) chose to align with the Congress to keep the BJP out of power and formed a coalition government with Mr Dharam Singh as Chief Minsiter and Mr Kumaraswamy as Deputy Chief Minsiter. the rest is history.

The current elections saw the BJP going it alone and putting up candidates in all the 224 constituencies in an attempt to encash on the sympathy vote as the JD(S) failed to keep up its promise to transfer power to it. The verdict saw the BJP securing 110 seats, three seats less for a simple majority in the 224 member House. But the count was not sufficient to form the government on its own and it roped in the six Independents to form the first ever government in South on its own accord. The party's vote base saw a steep swing to 33.9 per cent.


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