BJP meet, Modi speech re-boots its Karnataka unit
Bengaluru, Apr 4: The Karnataka unit of the BJP is hoping to capitalise on hosting the party's national executive meeting and the overwhelming response to the prime minister's public meeting here on Friday night.
"The leadership has done a favour by asking us to host the party's first executive meet after coming to power at the centre, as the occasion gave us an opportunity to win back people's faith and demonstrate our ability to deliver," BJP's state unit president Pralhad Joshi told IANS here on Saturday.
Smarting under the loss of power in the southern state after a five-year (2008-13) tumultuous rule, which witnessed three chief ministers and a spate of scandals and scams, the party has been waiting to revive its fortunes though it had won 17 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the 2014 general election.
"The huge turnout at the public meeting is very reassuring as the party and our leader (Narendra Modi) remain popular and he commands respect. We learnt many people came from outside the city too," Joshi claimed. [Narendra Modi made our day, say BJP workers]
Though the election to the state legislative assembly is three years away, the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to cash in on the goodwill Modi's stirring hour-long speech generated in the people across the state and the nationwide attention on the executive meeting here since Thursday.
"Even after losing in the May 2013 assembly elections due to many factors, including division of votes, we came back strong to win 17 parliamentary seats, one less than 18 we had won in the 2009 general elections, which proves our support base and vote share remains intact across the state," Joshi recalled.
Joshi is also a BJP lawmaker from the Hubli-Dharward Lok Sabha seat, about 400 km from here.
With the return of its first chief minister in south India B.S. Yeddyurappa to the party fold last year and his posting as its national vice-president despite graft cases pending against him, a dozen local leaders, including lawmakers loyal to him, urged Modi and party president Amit Shah to make him the state unit president to prepare for the 2018 assembly election.
"We lost in the 2013 assembly elections after Yeddyurappa left the party (December 2011), formed a regional outfit -- Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) - and contested against us, resulting in our vote share splitting and benefiting the Congress," party's Rajya Sabha lawmaker Prabhakar Kore told IANS.
In the 2013 assembly poll to 224 constituencies across the state, the BJP had won just 40 seats as against 108 in the 2008 election, and the KJP bagged six, while another regional outfit (BSR-Congress), floated by former BJP minister and the party's Lok Sabha member from Ballari B.R. Sriramulu, ended up with four as all their traditional votes had split.
"Return of Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu benefited the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as we averted vote split and consolidated our base since then," Kore said.
Though Modi and Shah gave Yeddyurappa's loyalists a patient hearing, they did not commit to them as elections to the state unit's office-bearers' posts are three years away and Joshi had won appreciation from the leadership for his contribution in the 2014 general election and in organising the executive meeting so well in the city at short notice.
Yeddyurappa also represents the party from the Shivamogga Lok Sabha seat, about 270 km from here. [UPA foreign policy was that of retreat]
Be that as it may, Shah's observation at the party's office-bearers' meeting on Thursday that the state could face an early assembly poll in view of the rumblings in the ruling Congress has also galvanised the state leaders and cadres to activate their election machinery.
"Since Shah told us to prepare for the assembly polls, which could be held before 2018 when it is due otherwise, we will step-up our membership drive and get ready to take on the Congress anytime at the hustings," former BJP minister and party spokesman C.T. Ravi said.