As the opposition Congress pulls out all the stops to come back to power in Karnataka, the BJP is looking for a ”quantum jump” in its tally in the Old Mysore region to keep the reins of power in the southern state, banking on its strategy to win over a chunk of Vokkaliga votes.
The southern Karnataka region has long been a sore point for the BJP, especially in assembly polls, where the Janata Dal (Secular) has traditionally done well due to the influence of its leader and former prime minister Deve Gowda, especially among the dominant Vokkaliga community, while the Congress has been another main force.
However, the BJP believes that its aggressive moves to expand in the region by winning over several influential local leaders after it came to power by toppling the Congress-JD(S) government in 2019 besides the regional rival’s ”waning” impact and its outreach led by Home Minister Amit Shah and president J P Nadda, who have hopped across mutts with significant following, will pay it dividends this time.
”We will make a quantum jump in our tally in the region and retain power in the state with a big majority,” said BJP general secretary Arun Singh, who is also in charge of the party’s affairs in Karnataka.
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While the Congress is drawing confidence from the response to its leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in the state, Singh dismissed any such outcome, noting that his party did well in local polls in Champarajnagar, which falls in Old Mysore, and Bijapur.
To a question about its tallest leader from the state and former chief minister B S Yediyurappa, who made way for Basavaraj Bommai for the top post in July 2021, Singh noted that he had set the target of winning 150 seats in the 224-member assembly and has been working to achieve it.
Rivals may float claims against our party but the BJP is a ”united house” while the chief minister enjoys a clean image, he claimed, adding that it is the Congress which is a ”divided house” with former chief minister Siddaramaiah and state party chief D K Shivakumar pulling in different directions. Old Mysore remains central to the BJP’s ambition to retain power in the state which it had swept in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by winning 25 of 28 seats.
BJP sources noted that the state government has seven ministers from the Vokkaliga community while the central government has also one in Shobha Karandlaje. One of its national general secretaries, C T Ravi, is also from the caste which is the second largest in the state after Lingayat.
Old Mysore has nearly 64 assembly seats outside Bengaluru, and the BJP’s tally was in low single digit last time as the Congress and the JD(S), which had contested separately, shared an overwhelming numbers between them.