BENGALURU: Proving critics wrong, the Modi-Shah juggernaut has almost crushed its rivals in the southern state of Karnataka too. Though the party has fallen just short of scoring an absolute majority, BJP has bagged the battle honours. The saffron surge in Karnataka is being attributed to the Modi-Amit Shah-Yeddyurappa (MAY) factor as BJP state general secretary Shobha Karandlaje aptly put it as the results started pouring in on Tuesday.
Determined to make Karnataka ‘Congress mukth’, BJP national president Amit Shah had started the ground work more than a year ago. Bringing B S Yeddyurappa back and announcing him as the Chief Ministerial candidate was the first move in this regard, which paid rich dividends as the dominant Veerashaiva-Lingayat community stood rock solid behind him. Thanks to Yeddyurappa’s mass appeal and his stature in the community, Congress’ strategies to dent the Lingayat vote base of BJP by according minority religion status came a cropper with the community solidly voting for BJP in the north and central regions of the state.
While the separate Lingayat religion issue failed to help Congress, it apparently aided BJP to bring greater consolidation of Hindu voters with a significant segment of even the backward community and Dalit voters opting for BJP in many parts of the state. The Hindutva card paid rich dividends for BJP in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi as it almost swept the region. The high voltage campaign in Bengaluru, by making the law and order situation in the city and the creaking infrastructure as poll issues, did find traction to some extent as the party has made significant gains.
Even as the multi-pronged strategy was in the works, it is the final push the party strategists brought in the form of the Modi blitzkrieg that helped it cross the 100 mark to disprove pre-poll survey results which had predicted a hung assembly with BJP ending up at second spot, much behind Congress. Modi’s whirlwind tour of Karnataka with 21 rallies provided the decisive thrust and the carpet-bombing plan of the party by bringing its big team of Union ministers and BJP Chief Ministers from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to address over 400 rallies literally whipped up a pro-BJP buzz which almost drowned Congress’ pitch in the battle.