BJP must learn the lessons from Jayanagar defeat.

bjp, jayanagar
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The Congress-JD (S) alliance has won the Jayanagar assembly seat in Karnataka by defeating the BJP. Congress candidate, Sowmya Reddy, defeated BJP’s BN Prahlad by the margin of 2,889 votes. The Congress candidate secured 54,457 votes, while the BJP candidate polled 51,568 votes. The voting was held on 11th June and the voter turnout was 55 %.  Voting for assembly elections were held across the state on 12th May but following the sudden death of BJP’s BN Vijaykumar on 4th May who was holding the Jayanagar seat caused the voting on this constituency to be postponed. The Congress has won the Jayanagar seat after ten years. BJP’s B N Vijayakumar won the seat with huge margins in 2008 and 2013. Former CM Siddaramaiah boasted arrogantly after the victory, “If elections in Jayanagar were held in May, even then the Congress candidate would have won the seat comfortably.” For Siddaramaiah victory margin of 2,889 votes is a comfortable one. 

Jayanagar falls in the parliamentary constituency of Union Minister Ananth Kumar and is considered as a BJP bastion. Ananth Kumar has been winning the South Bengaluru Lok Sabha seat since 1996. After the results, Ananth Kumar humbly accepted the mandate of the voters. He also laid stress on small victory margin of the Congress- JD(S) coalition and said BJP has increased its vote as compared to the previous election held in 2013. 

One of the prime reasons for the BJP’s defeat on the constituency is Muslim consolidation of votes in Congress’ favor in Muslim majority Gurappana Palya ward. Out of seven wards, the BJP comfortably won four wards and the Congress won three wards. But it’s the Muslim dominated Gurappana Palya which turned the tides in Congress’ favor. In Gurappana Palya ward, 88.2% votes polled to the Congress party.

Many other internal issues in the BJP contributed to its defeat. BN Prahlad is the brother of deceased Vijaykumar. BJP fielded him to gain sympathy votes but the move backfired. Local party workers were not happy with the choice of the candidate. Dissatisfied, some real estate businessmen switched to the other parties. The voter turnout was abysmal at just 55 %. The BJP needs to work on this as the middle class voters, BJP’s core support base, are not coming to vote.

There are three things that should worry the BJP after the Jayanagar by-polls assembly result:

First, the Congress winning traditional BJP bastion should be a cause for worry to the BJP. Bengaluru, despite having high profile cabinet ministers like Sadanand Gowda and Ananth Kumar, is not yielding the good results to the BJP. On the other hand, under the leadership of low-profile ministers like Ananth Kumar Hegde and Nalin Kumar, the BJP swept the entire Coastal Karnataka. BJP should introspect and correct the things which are going wrong.

Second, the opposition parties are getting the caste and other equations right. As per coalition accord, the JD(S) didn’t contest the seat. The good understanding between the JD(S)-Congress gave them the desired outcome. Congress’ victory over Jayanagar constituency has also opened the doors of South-Bengaluru Lok Sabha seat. Other regional parties would follow the same strategy in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The third worrying aspect of this loss is BJP’s poor performance in urban area like Bengaluru. Jayanagar is also an urban area and it is believed that PM Modi is almost unbeatable in urban areas. Congress now has 15 out of 28 Bengaluru Assembly seats. BJP’s pollsters and strategists should be worried about losing urban voter base.

Karnataka is very important for the BJP in 2019 General elections. It is the gateway to South Indian politics. The party, despite applying all its might, failed to get the majority numbers and has now been defeated in its stronghold. The party should introspect and re-strategies otherwise road to 2019 is not going to be an easy one.

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Shubham Singh

21, (BA) Political Science Hons, PG Diploma in RTV, Learner.

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