BJP’s Bengaluru bug: What ails the party in its once upon a time strong bastion
The Congress added one more to its kitty and ironically for the BJP, it was yet another seat from Bengaluru, considered to be its bastion. The Congress took its Bengaluru tally to 15 with back to back wins in Rajarajeswhari Nagar and Jayanagar.
The current tally- out of the 28 seats, the Congress has 15, BJP, 11 and JD(S) 2. In 2008, the BJP had 14, Congress 13 and JD(S). In the 2013 elections, the tally was 13, 12 and three in favour of the Congress, BJP and JD(S) respectively.
Many within the BJP would agree that it was the Bengaluru mishap which stood in its way for forming the government in Karnataka. The BJP ended up with 104 seats which was 8 short of the magic number.
The elections in Jayanagar, the results of which were announced yesterday was won by Sowmya Reddy, daughter of veteran Congressman Ramalinga Reddy. She beat B N Prahlad of the BJP. He is the brother of the late B Vijaykumar who passed away while he was campaigning, as a result of which the elections to the Jayanagar seat was postponed.
The BJP had held this seat for ten years and losing it has hurt the party. The BJP would have hoped that it could gain from the sympathy factor. In the candidature of Prahlad, there was some opposition at first. Some within the party said that he is a lesser known face.
There was also a rebellion within the party by six BJP councillors, all of whom were aspirants for a ticket. While the party managed to convince some of them, it appeared to be too late as four councillors joined the campaign at the last moment. The rebellion by N Nagaraju from Byrasandra was an open one and he was seen with the Congress all the time.
BJP insiders agree that the infighting should have been sorted out earlier. This cost the party and if one looks at the narrow victory margin, it become clear that the infighting did go against the party.
BJP leader, Ananth Kumar said that the party humbly accepts the voters' mandate in a tightly contested election. The party lost by only 2,889 votes inspite of an unholy tie up between the Congress and JD(S). B S Yeddyurappa said that the vote share has increased when compared to the 2013 elections.
Jayanagar ward wise breakdown:
- JP Nagar: BJP, 8,492, Congress, 4984
- Sarakki: BJP, 9097, Congress, 4490
- Shakambarinagar : BJP, 9,637, Congress, 3,555
- Pattabhiramaganar: BJP, 9,538, Congress, 4,282
- Byrasandra: BJP, 6,595, Congress, 9,809
- Jayanagar East: BJP, 5,523, Congress, 7,777
- Gurrapana Palya: BJP, 2,710, Congress, 19,560
The Bengaluru bug:
From the 2008 elections onwards, the BJP has seen a decline in Bengaluru. Considered to be its bastion, the decline has been steady. Even when the party was at its lowest ebb in 2013, it had managed to 12 and in 2018, it would have hoped to put up a better performance.
The BJP has been bitten by several bugs which includes the choice of candidates, infighting and also the pathetic voter turn out. It is clear that in several constituencies the voter turn out was low and the middle class voters could be blamed for it. The BJP would need to do more in Bengaluru which would include pushing the voters out of their homes and also get their candidate selection right.
While the Jayanagar contest was a close one, the one in Rajarajeshwari Nagar was a no fight. This despite an allegation of a voter ID scam against the Congress. At the end of it the Rajarajeshwari Nagar elections appeared to be a walk-over for the Congress.
There are two more elections that would be held in the days to come. A by-election at Jamakhandi became necessary following the death of Congress leader, Siddu Nyamagouda in a road accident. By-elections would also be held at Ramanagara after H D Kumaraswamy gave up the seat to retain Channapatna.