Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party-Karnataka Janata Paksha combine could not retain any of the three Legislative Council seats in the byelections, the BJP think tank believes that it is the alliance with its own splinter group, led by the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, that helped it to put up a tough fight as its candidates lost only by a narrow margin.
The party leadership now wants to strengthen the ties with the KJP as it feels that the situation would have been even worse without such an alliance. “The KJP is in talks with us on further strengthening the alliance as it will be mutually beneficial,” BJP sources said.
But the BJP leadership is of a clear view that its alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) for the Lok Sabha byelections did not work as the latter’s reservation on ideological grounds came in the way of a full-fledged joint campaign. “In all probability, the alliance with the Janata Dal(S) will end as we are firm that there cannot be any tie-up with those who are not willing to join the National Democratic Alliance and support our national campaign committee chairman Narendra Modi,” the sources said.
The BJP thinks that it can aim at completely occupying the anti-Congress space now as the Janata Dal(S) has lost by a huge margin in the Lok Sabha byelections in the Vokkaliga heartland that formed the main support base of the latter. As per the seat-sharing pact, the BJP had nominated candidates for the Dharwad and Chitradurga seats, while the KJP had contested in Mysore.
While the BJP lost the Dharwad seat by only 43 votes, the margin was 223 votes in Chitradurga. The KJP lost the Mysore seat by a margin of 1,168 votes.
The bypoll defeat has embarrassed the former Chief Ministers B.S. Yeddyurappa and Jagadish Shettar, sending a message to them that their individual political clout alone may not help them win elections. While Mr. Yeddyurappa’s candidate lost the Mysore seat, Mr. Shettar could not ensure the victory of his brother from the party’s bastion of Dharwad where the BJP was expected to sail through. This has raised the question whether it was appropriate to nominate Mr. Shettar’s brother against the wish of the party cadre to field a well-known party worker.
The BJP core committee — the highest decision-making body of the party’s State unit — is meeting in Bangalore on Saturday to introspect and analyse the reasons for the election defeat. “But we are not going to hold any other big introspection meetings as these are only bypolls,” the sources said. The defeat in the Council bypolls, especially in its stronghold of Dharwad, has upset the BJP as a victory at a time when the Congress government is celebrating hundred days in power would have provided an ideal platform for the party to prepare for the general elections.
The BJP, which was planning to use this opportunity to send out a political message to the electorate that it is on the recovery path after the Assembly elections, now has an uphill task of galvanising its cadre ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.