Why BJP Is Angry With BJP In Karnataka

by Harsha Bhat - Jul 28, 2022 05:00 PM +05:30 IST
Why BJP Is Angry With BJP In KarnatakaRegions that were most pro-BJP in Karnataka are now seeing the maximum discontent against the party leadership.
Snapshot
  • The narrative needs a reset and 2023 is the time for it.

    For Karnataka is not just the BJP’s 'doorway to the south', but a natural home for the party. Tokenistic moves will dismantle it forever.

What has happened in Karnataka after the killing of Praveen Nettaru is an organic result of events. The BJP in Karnataka has failed.

Not as a party that proposed a Modi model but as a party that was known for creating leaders with a spine. As a party whose manifesto should have manifested into action by now. As a party whose extended cadre and voters supported it out of fear and hope.

Fear, arising out of the way in which the majority of population, as well as the cities that deserve growth, had both been totally ignored by the other parties. And hope that was instilled in 2014 by the central leadership. And was reinstated in 2018.

The saffron fortresses of Karnataka are now seeing the maximum discontent against the party leadership because of the arrogance of politicians who rode mighty on the Modi wave, only to disappoint their core vote bank with non-performance and a misplaced sense of activism that was supposed to stand in for ‘struggle for Hindutva’.

What placed such people in power was the BJP’s excessive focus on an idea not just in Karnataka but in many other states as well—‘winnability’.

And this ‘winnability’ that brought the incumbent leaders in many seats back to power is what is being questioned today.

Workers are angry because they know the reality on the ground. The candidates were ‘winnable’ not because they did something special, but because the region is ‘saffron’, and the saffron is now getting soaked in the red of blood.

For every time that coastal Karnataka overwhelmingly voted BJP, has the Hindu on the street gotten more empowered - emotionally, economically? No. Each time a Praveen is killed, WhatsApp messages of ‘Boycott ABC’ do the rounds and then get ‘archived’.

Let’s take the economic part of it. The development narrative isn’t the core of public discourse here, unlike what the Centre has achieved in other parts. Development in pockets where airports were constructed or industrial clusters are coming up are different, but the idea and possibility of, and discussions around, economic growth are still not central to the popular discourse in coastal Karnataka.

Now the emotional part. Why is it that the UP model is invoked each time something like the recent event happens? Because a Hindu BJP supporter in UP does not need to make long speeches about what the government did for the whole state; he can point to something closer to home, local, to justify his political choice.

How many Prayagrajs have been made in Karnataka? And no we aren’t talking of name-change here. A Kashi Yatra subsidy of Rs 5,000/- has to be lauded here because in five years the government could not upgrade five key Hindu heritage cities of the region.

If not for the fear of an ‘anti-Hindu’ Congress coming to power, the Hindu voter here is an orphan who is choosing the BJP for the ‘old BJP’ values, while the SDPI, PFI and other such forces have gobbled the minority vote bank of the Congress with unapologetic appeasement.

Even after all this, the key sentiment of the BJP supporter is still aspirational. It was an aspirational hope that got Modi to power. It was an aspirational hope that manifested as the Kashi corridor or as the transformation of Ayodhya. This is missing in Karnataka. And it isn’t that the party hasn’t realised it.

What happened in Bellare is unfortunate but it got those within the party to take to the streets, to heckle leadership, to make the party cancel its Janotsava celebrations.

May be they could instead use the time and venue to reflect and talk to the same workers who fuel their key vehicle of Hindutva.

The narrative needs a reset and 2023 is the time for it. For Karnataka is not just the BJP’s 'doorway to the south', but a natural home for the party. Tokenistic moves will dismantle it forever.


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