February 10, 2023
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss the prospects of BJP in the upcoming Karnataka polls. We also look at the plight of tourists in Sikkim, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Karnataka polls: What are BJP’s prospects?
It’s a new year, but the political battles continue to churn. 2023 is a crucial year as we head into the 2024 general elections. There are a bunch of important assembly elections coming up. The BJP will be looking to set the stage for next year’s election.
One state to keep an eye on is Karnataka. In a few months, the state goes to the polls with the BJP, Congress, and JD(S) in the fray. For the BJP, the state is crucial as it’s the only southern one where it’s in power. They see it as a gateway to the South. Can the party keep the state and build on a victory to march further in the South?
Let’s take a broader view first. In many ways, the South is the new political battlefield. The parties know where they stand and what needs to be done. The challenges have become stronger with Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra. The BJP has been wooing the South with a big infrastructure push. They’ve also roped in famous personalities like PT Usha and Ilaiyaraja. It’s a widely-used tactic, especially in South India.
Barring Karnataka, the BJP has made little inroads in the South over the past eight years. The BJP faces formidable opposition here – the DMK and Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu, and KC Rao and the TRS in Telangana. Only 29 of the 130 MPs from the South are from the BJP. Out of that, 25 are from Karnataka. Where the BJP sees an opening is the possible weakening of parties like the AIADMK and TDP.
Going back to 1983 and the BJP’s beginnings, Rama Bhat played a crucial role in shaping the party’s politicking in the Mangalore plains. There was a strong RSS presence there, and even before 1980, they had influence with the farmer lobbies. Bhat managed to get 18 seats in Karnataka for the first time, though the party only contested in safe districts. In the 1985 elections, all the hard work was undone as the BJP suffered heavy losses.
Following the 1989 elections and Congress victories in the state, 1991 was a turning point. Rising Hindutva and waning CPI influence turned the tide in Bangalore. In the 1994 elections, the urban areas were favourable to the party. The elections that followed saw ups and downs in the BJP’s fortunes.
Karnataka’s 224 assembly seats are up for grabs. The BJP and Congress are the main competitors. The state can be a tricky one to predict. It’s a bit of a political minefield. In the 2018 elections, the BJP emerged as the single-largest party with 104 seats. Despite the dominance of Congress over the years in the state, the BJP’s steady rise was being noted. With the AAP’s entrance, there’s a strong possibility of a hung assembly.
VIEW: From strength to strength
The BJP’s trump card is Narendra Modi. His image, rhetoric, and rallies could make a difference. The BJP has begun its statewide Jana Sankalp Yatra, hoping to woo swing voters. The party has sent its loyal footsoldier Amit Shah, to the Vokkaliga-dominated Mysuru region. The party is looking to balance the Lingayat-Vokkaliga-OBC-Dalit community votes. Shah has gone on the offensive calling the JD(S) and Congress corrupt and blaming them for the rise of radical groups like the PFI.
With Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, the party is looking to project him, given he’s from the Lingayat community. Lingayats and Vokkaligas account for 29% of the population. They’re the most dominant and influential group in the state. There’s also the curious case of BS Yediyurappa, Bommai’s predecessor. Despite being replaced and some hard feelings, the BJP included him in the party’s parliamentary board. He’s another Lingayat personality the BJP can lean on.
What the BJP has going for it are the opposition’s weaknesses. The HD Deve Gowda-led JD(S) is looking to be the kingmaker, but the outlook doesn’t look promising. The party is plagued by desertions and internal rifts. Its target of 123 seats is ambitious but unlikely. Coming to the Congress, it’s in power only in three states. It’s no stranger to internal fights, and it’s got one between Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar.
COUNTERVIEW: BJP on the backfoot
Here’s what the BJP is up against – no chief minister has returned to power in the state since 1985. It’s no surprise that the BJP will look to Modi as the main man, potentially sidelining the chief minister. It’s unclear if the Gujarat model will work in Karnataka. Party chief Nalin Keetal’s term ended in August with no replacement. The government faces severe anti-incumbency and is dogged by corruption scandals. One potential issue is the party doesn’t have a credible Vokkaliga leader in the state.
The BJP has some internal rifts to deal with too. Sri Rama Sena chief Pramod Muthalik will contest from Karkala in Udupi against influential BJP leader Sunil Kumar Karkala. The Sri Ram Sene plans to field candidates in 25 seats. The group has hit out at the BJP for sidelining Hindutva. The BJP needs to get the math right, and every seat counts since early opinion polls show an uphill climb. Per their internal polling, only 30 seats have been categorised as sure wins and 70 as sure defeats.
The JD(S) might have a thing to add to the contest. Some of the Congress support has drifted to them. Despite its Gujarat setback, the AAP has been upbeat. Even without a strong grassroots presence, it has continued to add to its ranks. With the BJP on the defensive with corruption allegations, the door is open for the JD(S) and AAP to play spoilsport.
- Dynasties, welfare politics, social engineering: South India the new battlefield in 2023 – Economic Times
- History of the BJP in Karnataka – Swarajya
- 35 years of roller coaster ride for BJP in Karnataka – India Today
- Karnataka Elections: Can Bommai Break The Jinx And Return As CM? – Bloomberg
- What’s behind BS Yediyurappa’s gradual resurrection ahead of Karnataka polls – India Today
- Congress can win 108-114 seats in Karnataka assembly polls: Survey – New Indian Express
- South First poll predicts Congress will emerge as single-largest party in tight fight in Karnataka – South First
- Karnataka election: A mining baron and a Hindutva leader add to BJP’s woes – The News Minute
- Karnataka a political minefield as assembly polls near – Onmanorama
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) BJP’s prospects in the upcoming Karnataka elections are good.
b) BJP’s prospects in the upcoming Karnataka elections are bad.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Things are not well in Kashmir
For the Left:
NSA visit to the US will fuel India’s aim to become aatmanirbhar
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Prepaid smart metres in government departments (Punjab) – For all of its new and current connections in the government departments, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has chosen to use prepaid smart metres. Following the installation of these pre-paid metres, the departments will be required to pay in advance for any future energy usage.
Why it matters: The state electricity provider is required to install pre-paid metres in all departments by March 31, 2024, as per the RDS Scheme of the central government. The government hospitals, water supply, and electricity connections relating to medical and emergency services will not be required to use smart metering systems.
Semiconductor research collaboration between IISc-Samsung (Karnataka) – To support research and development in the Indian semiconductor sector, IISc will work with Samsung Semiconductor India Research. In particular, IISc and SSIR will collaborate to further research and development for electrostatic discharge protection for semiconductor devices (ESD).
Why it matters: The collaboration will aid in the development of solutions, particularly to safeguard “ultra-high-speed serial connections” in cutting-edge integrated circuit (IC) and system-on-chip (SoC) devices, claims IISc. ICs and SoCs are necessary for almost every system we encounter, but they are particularly vulnerable to ESD failures when made using modern nanoscale CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) technology. According to IISc, ESD problems are to blame for the bulk of IC chip failures and field returns.
Tourists get stranded due to Bandh (Sikkim) – Due to the 12-hour bandh declared by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Sikkim, several visitors were left trapped in Siliguri for hours on their trip to Sikkim. Although the forum members had warned the public about the strike, travellers who had not heard about it were left stranded at the SNT bus terminal in Siliguri.
Why it matters: Vice-President of the Joint Action Committee Passang Sherpa said that the committee decided to call the strike after holding many discussions. The strike wasn’t directed at any specific individuals or political organisations. The observations in the Supreme Court’s ruling on Wednesday that described Sikkimese-Nepalis as “persons of foreign origin” were erased. Regarding the order, the Centre submitted a review petition to the SC on Monday. On Thursday, the Sikkim Assembly will convene for a special session to discuss this matter.
Textile industry seeks land to expand (Rajasthan) – Both the general public and businesses have high hopes for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s budget, which will be unveiled on Friday. While the general public anticipates a variety of SOPs, the heads of industry anticipate land and subsidies.
Why it matters: Despite the fact that Jodhpur is a thriving centre for the handicraft and textile industries, the lack of sufficient space set aside for these sectors has been a barrier to their growth. According to Ashok Baheti, president of the Jodhpur Textile Association, there is an urgent need for the city’s textile sector to expand and solve the problem of pollution caused by effluents.
NIA files chargesheet against six people (Manipur) – A minor and six other people were charged by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday for allegedly planning a terrorist attack the night before Manipur’s Independence Day festivities last year. The 16-year-old defendant was charged at Thoubal’s primary magistrate court’s Juvenile Justice Board, and six other defendants were charged in Imphal’s NIA special court.
Why it matters: Investigations revealed that these people belonged to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and collected Arms, ammunition, and explosives for conducting terrorist activities by planting explosive devices at various government installations and targeting security forces in Thoubal, Kakching, and other valley districts in Manipur on the eve of the Independence Day, 2022. The PLA is an outlawed militant organisation that engages in military conflict in the name of “sovereign Manipur.”
🔢 KEY NUMBER
100% – 100% land acquisition completed in Maharashtra for the bullet train project.