The BJP’s efforts to expand in southern states suffered a blow on Saturday with its two-day old government collapsing as Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa resigned before a trust vote in an assembly where no party has majority.
The party now hopes that the move, akin to what then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did in 1996 after failing to garner enough support for his 13-day old government, will help it gain sympathy in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Despite knowing the fact that it was short of the required numbers, the BJP leadership went ahead to stake claim and took risk of allowing Yeddyurappa to take oath as Chief Minister.
This is what Vajpayee — the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Minister — did almost 22 years ago.
The BJP, which considers Karnataka as its gateway to south, tried its best to win the trust vote after forming the government on Thursday but failed to sustain it.
Despite this, BJP leaders are hopeful Yeddyurappa’s emotional speech in the Assembly before resigning and clearing his vision for the cause of farmers and downtrodden, will help the party in 2019 elections.
“Yeddyurappa did the same way Atal Bihari Vajpayee made his speech in the Lok Sabha in 1996 before resigning as the Prime Minister,” a senior BJP functionary told IANS, recalling how the BJP-led NDA returned with a thumping majority in the elections that followed.
“The BJP surged all over the country and formed governments (in many states) with coalition as well as of its own in 2014. We are hopeful of emerging in south too through Yeddyurappa,” he said.
With the possibility of relatively fewer seats in the Hindi belt states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and other north Indian states during the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, BJP President Amit Shah has been working on a strategy to compensate a bit from the probable loss of seats in southern part of the country.
But after Yeddyurappa’s resignation, Shah’s startegy has suffered a jolt as it provided an opportunity to the opposition camp to remain united.
The Assembly poll results clearly indicate that if the Congress and JD-S join hands in 2019, it will be a tough task for the BJP.
In 2014, the BJP had won 17 out of total 28 Lok Sabha seats of Karnataka. Out of total 129 seats of southeren states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerela, the BJP could win only 21 in 2014.
With the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) quitting the NDA, the BJP has already suffered a jolt in south as its position has weakened considerably in Andhra Pradesh where Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is campaigning against the Modi government for not meeting the demand of special status to the state.
To compensate TDP’s departure from the NDA, the BJP has been eying YSR Congress. But that looks like not an easy task as YSR Congress itself has been vehemently opposing the Modi government for not meeting the demand of special status.
In 2014, the BJP could won only two out of 25 seats in Lok Sabha in Andhra Pradesh.
In Tamil Nadu, the BJP is also facing the ire of the people as the Union government has failed yet to constitute a Cauvery Management Board.
With AIADMK in power and DMK as the main opposition, the BJP has very little space for its emergence in the state. In the 2016 state Assembly elections, the BJP even found it hard to identify candidates for the 234 constituencies in the Dravidian state.
The BJP is now trying to make inroads in Kerala but it will again not be an easy cup of tea for the party.
Although the BJP improved its vote share by around nine per cent in 2016 state Assembly elections, but it failed to stop Left Democratic Front from retaining power. In that year, the BJP opened an account in the state assembly — a first in the history of Kerala.
The BJP is hopeful of gaining ground in Telangana but faces a tough contest from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Congress. In 2014, it could win only one seat out of total 17 in the state.
Now, with the country all set to face general elections next year, the only state through which the BJP could have made inroads in south was Karnataka.
With Karnataka gone now, Yeddyurappa made an emotional last bid to win people’s heart ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
“I will travel across the state non stop. We have received tremendous love and support across the state. For 2019, I promise, we will win 28 out of all 28 Lok Sabha seats. I won’t relent. I will continue to fight till my last breath,” he said in the Assembly, before meeting Governor Vajubhai Vala to resign.