The Bharatiya Janata Party has received a shot in the arm with the re-entry of B.S. Yeddyurappa and with this, the sway of the Congress, which stole the show in the last Legislative Assembly elections, is expected to be curtailed in the Lok Sabha elections.
Although on the cards for nearly six months, a formal invitation was extended to Mr. Yeddyurappa on Thursday to join the BJP and this is expected to signal the merger of the Karnataka Janata Party, which he floated in December 2012, with the BJP.
The KJP largely comprises the erstwhile activists of the BJP barring a few of the former leaders of the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress who could not play a key role in those two parties. Karnataka has 28 Lok Sabha seats and in the last elections in 2009, the BJP won 19 in contrast to the Congress which won six seats and the Janata Dal(S) three seats.
In the recent byelections to two Lok Sabha seats, the Congress wrested them both which it had lost to the Janata Dal(S) over a period of time.
The Congress has been on the downslide since 1977 ( when it lost two seats to the Janata Party — Hassan and Bangalore South — after the Emergency) in contrast to the clean sweep it achieved in the 1971 general elections.
Although, it is quite certain that the next round of elections would be more or less a direct fight between the two national parties, it should be noted that the Congress has a fairly good presence across all regions of the State in contrast to the BJP or even the Janata Dal(S).
At the present juncture, both the Congress and the BJP are aiming at winning at least 20 of the 28 seats.
An immediate benefit for the BJP (following the merger with the KJP), will be its elevation as the Principal Opposition Party in the Legislative Assembly, a status which it had lost to the Janata Dal(S), although both the parties won an equal number of 40 seats.
The BJP and the KJP are yet to go through with the process of merger as prescribed under the provisions of the Representation of People Act and the 10th Schedule of the Constitution and there could always be some hiccups given the fact that at least one of the six legislators elected on KJP ticket has expressed his opposition to the merger.
Karnataka is the only State in the South where the BJP has a good presence and the onus is now on the State unit to prove that it remains a force to reckon with.
With the Aam Aadmi Party setting forth a new agenda, a clear-cut policy against corruption, the BJP has a big challenge ahead as it had compelled its former captain to quit as the head of the government then, only to invite him to rejoin the party now.
It is only the results of the Lok Sabha elections which can validate the importance of Mr. Yeddyurappa to the BJP in the present political scenario, although it is quite evident that the proposed merger of the KJP and the BJP is obviously a marriage of convenience for both the parties.
The BJP, whose image has been sagging over the past year in the aftermath of Mr. Yeddyurappa resigning as Chief Minister and the consequent differences within the party, needs him to bolster its strength and present a semblance of unity, while the latter is more than keen to join the BJP to stay afloat in the political spectrum.