KARNATAKA

BJP to change strategy to attract votes

Bangalore Oct. 26. A consistent claim of the State unit of the BJP in the past three months has been that its popularity graph has been on the ascendance thanks to what it calls the misrule and maladministration of the State Government in contrast to the good performance of the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre.

The latest evidence cited in proof of this by the party managers is the good response to its 11-day "Janasangharsha" programme this month from Nelamangala to Bidar, led by the State unit President H.N. Ananth Kumar, to "expose the State Government's failures".

The results of the elections held recently, whether to the Assembly (byelections) or the municipal councils, which are the real measure of one's popularity, however, show that the growing popularity, if any, is yet to convert itself into votes.

The party chose to contest only in one of the two byelections (held in September) to the Legislative Assembly, and that was from Hungund where it emerged second. The party which contested the byelection, not with the confidence of winning the seat but to test the political waters, was elated over its figuring second and getting five times more votes than it did in the 1994 Assembly elections.

It is not being denied that one of the main reasons for this good performance of the party was a damaging statement allegedly made by the former Prime Minister and JD(S) supreme, H.D. Deve Gowda, which had hurt the sentiments of a dominant community prior to the byelection.

Earlier, in the Krishnarajapuram City Municipal Council elections in August, the party fared disastrously and managed to retain only two of the four seats in the council. It was the same story with the October 19 elections to the 31-member Mahadevapura City Municipal Council where it has managed to retain the solitary seat. All the same, the BJP was quite content with its performance as it secured second place in six of the wards.

In fact, the thinking in party circles is that if it had put in better efforts in the Krishnarajapuram elections, it could have prevented the Congress from emerging as the party with the majority. The sources admit that a new strategy of maintaining closer liaison with the people on a regular basis is necessary to win the elections rather than just exposing the failures of the Government.

Meanwhile, the party has announced that six sitting members of the Kengeri Municipal Council are quitting the Congress and the JD(S) to join it in the presence of Mr. Kumar tomorrow.

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