NEW DELHI: Karnataka, the BJP’s gateway to South India and the only state down the Vindhyas where the saffron party has come to power on three occasions, is reworking its strategy, and looking at the way things are panning out. The plan is very much being executed by the Chanakya of Indian politics—Amit Shah.
Close on the heels of the historic landslide victory in Gujarat recently where the opposition was decimated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah combination, by taking some bold decisions to retire big faces from the hustings and beat the anti-incumbency, which did pay off big dividends, the troika—Modi-Shah-Nadda—now is working on a new electoral policy, which is no more caste-based politicking and no more blackmail politics in the name of caste by one particular section, and by asking elderly legislators to retire from active politics and take advisory roles.
The first of the meetings on the state elections by Amit Shah was held in Bengaluru towards the fag end of last year and the focus was the Old Mysore region and the Cauvery delta region. While Shah made some strong observations about how the party could alter the JDS bastion to its advantage and do away with caste-based politics, his statements that the party would go to the elections with Modi’s face was a big message to party veterans who have for decades been central to the party affairs.
Top BJP sources told The Sunday Guardian that over 30 senior leaders will make their way for NextGen leaders. “What Shah meant was that BJP doesn’t want the narrative that it’s a Lingayat-backed party. The party wants all communities to come together—Vokkaligas, Lingayats, Kuruba, Nayakas, Dalits, and OBCs. All leaders from across these communities will be treated at par. His focus on Vokkaligas in the last meeting on Mysore was a case in point. Going further, such focus will be in other areas too. While it was evident with the unceremonious exit of B.S. Yediyurappa that the party will not shy away from taking some tough decisions, the next move would be directed towards Kuruba leader and motormouth Eshwarappa and former chief minister Jagadish Shettar along with others of their like,” party sources told this paper.
The sources also added that while Shah would focus on Old Mysore and southern parts of the state, J.P. Nadda would focus on the northern regions and PM Modi would address over 50 rallies in the next three months.
Although Yediyurappa was accommodated in the party’s parliamentary board, he is said to be upset with the way the party has been utilizing him in the state. “He is a mass leader and has a huge electoral base in the state but in the last eight months, he has been restricted to his house by not inviting him to any party events attended by central leaders. It is clear that a new group has emerged in the state unit which is opposing BSY and his son Vijayendra who is also popular with the youth and the Lingayat community,” sources close to the family said.
While the BJP is making bold moves, what with PM Modi’s first road show in Hubli on the National Youth Day with no invitation to BSY, Eshwarappa, or Jagadish Shettar, who is the sitting MLA from the same city itself, what raised many an eyebrow during the roadshow was that even Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai didn’t get space on the motorcade—it’s Modi all the way.