With the Janaspandana rally, the ruling BJP in Karnataka has kicked off its election campaign in the Old Mysuru region, where the party is aiming to put an end to the Congress’ stronghold, in next year’s Assembly elections.
Saturday’s rally was favoured mainly by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and his Cabinet colleague and close confidante Dr. K Sudhakar. The rally was held in Doddaballapur, which is in Chikkaballapur parliamentary constituency.
The event was significant for Bommai to celebrate his one year in office. However, the party claimed it was for the completion of its three-year rule in the state.
With this rally, Bommai was trying to send a strong message to those working against him within his own party and also to come unscathed amid allegations of corruption against his government.
This was also important for Sudhakar, who jumped ship from the Congress to BJP during ‘Operation Lotus’. MLA Sudhakar represents the Chikkaballapur constituency and he is the lone BJP legislator from the region. He wants to expand the party’s base in the region and also shed the ‘migrant’ tag in the saffron party.
Also, with the success of this rally, Sudhakar managed to counter his opponents in the state BJP and could be in a position to assert his authority in the party.
Earlier, when Janotsava rally was planned in Doddaballapura on July 26, Bommai was asked by the party’s leadership in Delhi to postpone it due to the murder of BJP worker Praveen Nettaru, which attracted a lot of anger from the party workers against the Bommai government.
Later it was planned for August 28 but again pushed back to September 8 due to Ganeshotsava.
Then, a senior minister in the Bommai Cabinet Umesh Katti passed away on September 6 due to a heart attack and the government was not ready to take risk of announcing only one-day mourning (it had planned one-day mourning, but the practice is to have three-day mourning when a sitting minister dies. Also, Opposition leader Siddaramaiah questioned the government’s move) and later announced three days state mourning and postponed Janotsava to September 11.
But Bommai and Sudhakar, who were worried about three postponements and their opponents in the party and outside mocking the “one-year celebrations”, advanced the September 11 event to September 10 and renamed Janotsava to Janaspandana and breathed a sigh after it happened.
However, the postponements resulted in BJP national president JP Nadda and party’s state in-charge Arun Singh skipping the event, which is said to have been a setback for the Bommai-Sudhakar duo. However, the arrival of Union Minister Smriti Irani brought some cheer.
2 lakh-plus people attend
It was a huge gathering of over two lakh people in Doddaballapur and this helped the BJP show its might in the old Mysuru region.
“The impact of this rally can be ascertained during the upcoming elections,” said a BJP leader, who did not wish to be named.
As the BJP celebrated, the Opposition criticised it for holding the rally when Bengaluru and other districts are facing severe floods due to heavy rains. The Opposition also highlighted the Bommai government’s failures. Added to this, there have been several comments against the administration on social media that have concerned the party leaders in Delhi.
Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts, which are the strongholds of the Congress, are the main targets of the BJP with this rally as it aims to win 150 seats out of the 224 in the 2023 Assembly elections.
Will Congress’ infighting help BJP?
The Congress has infighting between Siddaramaiah and state party chief DK Shivakumar. They are said to have prepared separate lists of candidates for the Old Mysuru region. This may help the BJP as a few Congress candidates are already in touch with them, and could result in dividing Congress’ vote share.
At the same time, the JDS, which has also a strong base as Congress in the region, is showing signs of emerging stronger again. JDS gaining more strength and division in the Congress may work in favour of the BJP.
The rally also saw former chief minister BS Yediyurappa attending as a member of the party’s parliamentary board. However, the veteran leader did not have much of a say in it and it was all about Sudhakar trying to help the BJP make inroads into Congress’ stronghold in the region.
Though the huge numbers at the rally paint a positive picture for the BJP, it may invite the wrath of many within the party due to Sudhakar taking credit. Whether the BJP gains from this or Congress loses or will it help the JDS will be only known when the parties face the voters next year.
Joined #Janaspandana program in Bengaluru to commemorate PM @narendramodi Ji & CM @BSBommai Ji led double engine Government’s development and welfare initiatives in the state of Karnataka. pic.twitter.com/aZK4gi86Ps
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) September 10, 2022