The battle-ready BJP with its well-oiled election machine ran its campaign with a blitzkrieg by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Assembly elections in Karnataka that votes on Wednesday.
It was clear the ‘double-engine Sarkar’ sought to heavily bank on Modi’s appeal to bolster its campaign, shore up its prospects and fight ”anti-incumbency”.
Retaining power in Karnataka — the only party-ruled State in south India — will be key to the BJP to keep up the momentum of its winning streak and get head start to polls in Hindi heartland of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan later this year. Months before the elections, a combative Congress had sought to make corruption a central theme of the political narrative.
The BJP emerged as the largest party in 2018 but was short of majority, following which the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress joined hands to form the Government with JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy becoming Chief Minister. But it formed the Government in July 2019 with the help of 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs who resigned and joined forces with the BJP. According to the BJP, the Prime Minister addressed 19 public meetings and six road shows, the last one being on May six. The BJP brought all its top guns from the Centre — Amit Shah, J P Nadda, Rajnath and Nirmala Sitharaman, among others, and Chief Ministers of several BJP-ruled States, including Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), for campaigning.
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The party fielded 75 new candidates, and promised, in its election manifesto, implementation of Uniform Civil Code and National Register of Citizens, and sought to highlight the benefits of a ”double-engine government” during campaigning.
The BJP made ”Hanuman” a campaign issue after the Congress promised to ban Bajrang Dal if it came to power. Modi likened the proposed ban with locking up Hanuman itself.
He also made it a point to chant ‘Jai Bajrang Bali’ in all his speeches after the Congress released its manifesto.