BJP paints Karnataka saffron

Party wins 25 seats, making inroads into JD(S) and Congress strongholds

Updated - May 23, 2019 11:10 pm IST

Published - May 23, 2019 11:08 pm IST - Bengaluru

BJP workers celebrate the victories in two seats Belagavi and Chikkodi

BJP workers celebrate the victories in two seats Belagavi and Chikkodi

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has registered its best ever performance in Karnataka, with almost a clean sweep of the State ruled by the coalition of its political opponents, the Janata Dal(S) and Congress.

The saffron party won 25 of the total 28 seats while another seat has been won by an Independent candidate supported by it. The BJP has reduced the ruling allies to a position of being content with just one seat each, as against a total of 11 seats won by them in 2014 and one more seat gained in bypolls last year.


Though the BJP’s tally has been a record high this time, its winning streak started in 2004 when it won 18 seats. It kept up the tempo, winning 19 and 17 seats respectively in 2009 and 2014 polls.

Extending reach

The BJP’s performance is being seen as part of a road map to expand its organisation in the strongholds of its political opponents, where the saffron party did not have any political presence. For example, the BJP has been able to make inroads into the JD(S) bastion of old Mysore region, especially the Vokkaliga-dominated areas.

Similarly, it has flexed its muscle in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region dominated by Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge. In fact, but for the two seats of Bengaluru Rural and Hassan, located in old Mysore region, the entire State has gone into the BJP fold . The party is now hopeful of improving its performance in the next Assembly election.

The BJP increased the effectiveness of the campaign by pitching the contest as a “Modi vs the political opponent” rather than projecting individual candidates of the party.

In addition, a well-drafted political strategy capitalised on the continuous internal bickering between the coalition partners.

Harnessed instability

The BJP, which had to sit in the Opposition despite winning 104 seats in the 225-member Assembly (including a nominated member) as the JD(S) and Congress joined hands to form the government, has made constant efforts to topple the government by wooing MLAs from the ruling combine.

Though the party did not succeed in its efforts , it paved the way for political instability, affecting the performance of the government and its image. The BJP harnessed this to the full extent .

The pre-poll alliance between the former time rivals also served to aid the BJP, with a part of the Congress vote base in the old Mysuru region switching to the saffron party in constituencies where the Congress did not field its candidates.

BJP’s key strategist and national joint organisational general secretary B.L. Santosh is being credited with the party’s impressive performance as he co-ordinated the entire process right from selection of candidates and is believed to have played a crucial role in reaching out to people and co-ordinating with the RSS.

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