Karnataka elections: BJP to focus on caste matrix, woo backward classes

 Ahead of 2023 polls, party hunts for young BC leader, likely to give Sunil Kumar big role

Published: 07th July 2022 05:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th July 2022 05:46 AM   |  A+A-

For representation purpose

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The BJP’s two-day national executive meeting in Hyderabad gave an indication that the party would fall back on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image in its attempt to conquer the southern fortresses, but could adopt a different strategy for Karnataka, where the political equation is different.

The local leadership is crucial in Karnataka, and the party is likely to go with its famed “double-engine” mantra. The central leadership is looking to attract the backward classes as assembly elections draw near.
With regional satraps like former chief minister BS Yediyurappa, an undisputed Veerashaiva Lingayat leader of the BJP, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda of the JDS, and Opposition leader Siddaramaiah continuing to be forces to reckon with, the party is looking to groom alternative leaders from within the party. “The high command has realised that the caste factor is going to play a crucial role in the assembly polls,” a source said.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and many other leaders represent the Veerashaiva Lingayats, which has always favoured the BJP, CT Ravi and Dr CN Ashwath Narayan are the face of the Vokkaliga community, B Sriramulu is an ST leader and Union Minister of State for Social Justice A Narayanaswamy represents the SC community. Yet, the party lacks a young backward classes leader with promise.

According to sources, after former RDPR minister KS Eshwarappa lost his sheen, the party and RSS are eager to bring a Backward Classes leader to the fore, and are looking to project Energy Minister V Sunil Kumar as the new face. The party held a backward classes national executive committee workshop in Bengaluru recently, and Sunil fits the bill, a leader said.

After the July 18 presidential polls, CM Bommai’s one year in office on July 27, and state BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel’s three-year term coming to an end in August, some changes in the government and party cannot be ruled out, a source told TNIE. To start with, party loyalists could be appointed to boards and corporations.

BCs averse to BJP?
There is a reason the BJP is giving a thrust to backward classes leadership in Karnataka, and is inclined to pick Sunil Kumar for a big responsibility: an internal sample survey has revealed that over 50 per cent of backward classes who voted in favour of the BJP in the 2018 assembly polls, is now averse to the Bommai government. “What assignment Sunil will get is a billion-dollar question,” another source said.

In fact, sensing that the backward classes are not so happy with the BJP, Siddaramaiah and his supporters are planning a big birthday bash to attract AHINDA voters, a Congress source said.


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