Predicting the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government after November 6, the BJP leadership has been shocked into silence as its fortress in Ballari has collapsed. The party could take only one of the five seats where by-polls were held. The lone victory in Shivamogga Lok Sabha seat too has come as a caution as the victory margin has slid from 3.50 lakh in 2014 to just 52,000 in this by-poll.
The setback has come as a wake-up call for the BJP leaders who were gung-ho about the fall of the coalition government and accomplishing ‘Mission 25’ in the 2019 Lok Sabha election to ensure a second term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The result has forced the party to introspect and put its house in order. For the BJP, the by-poll resembled more of a fight of individuals than the party. While party state president B S Yeddyurappa reserved his energy and time to ensure victory for his son B Y Raghavendra, another senior leader B Sriramulu waged a lone battle in Ballari for his sister J Shantha, who was the BJP candidate.
The absence of senior leaders like Jagadish Shettar and Prahlad Joshi in the campaign has again exposed the fissures within the party leadership. Projection of Sriramulu as the new strongman in the party ahead of the recent assembly election, when he was projected as a possible Deputy Chief Minister if the party was voted to power, is said to have not gone down well with many in the party.
The choice of Shantha as the party candidate for Ballari Lok Sabha seat with full responsibility to Sriamulu to ensure her victory, the intemperate comments of former BJP minister Janardhana Reddy about the death of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s son Rakesh and the campaign strategy in the by-poll have all come under scrutiny as Yeddyurappa admitted that the party needs to introspect on the poor show of the party in the by-poll.
As Congress and JD(S) leaders resolve to extend their run of victory to 2019 Lok Sabha poll with a stronger bonding, the BJP leadership would have to evaluate the utility of its top leaders, ensure greater unity and being new dynamism if the party is keen to take on the combined might of the coalition partners in the state, says political analyst prof Harish Ramaswamy.