BANGALORE: ?It is an historic and momentous occasion,? said two emotionally-charged top Karnataka BJP leaders, Shri Ramachandra Gowda and Shri D.H. Shankaramurthy, unable to control tears rolling down their eyes, as thousands of EVMs declared a near-clear majority for the BJP. ?A half-century dream is coming true,? they told Organiser, outside the information department media centre where they had arrived to speak to the waiting TV channels.
For those who are aware of the trials and tribulations of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and then the Bharatiya Janata Party, not to mention of the electoral ups and downs, their joy and emotions for winning 110 seats on their own are quite understandable. These two leaders are associated with the BJS since late 50s and are part of its growth.
Equally understandable is the ?silence? of those forces and elements who are opposed to the BJP, including political parties and so-called intellectuals. They are yet to realise what hit them and come to terms that the days of hypocrisy and double-standard, betrayal and skullduggery, arrogance and indifference are over. As rightly said by Shri L.K. Advani, the Karnataka verdict is against the politics of opportunism of the Congress and the betrayal of the Janata Dal (S).
The victory of the BJP has not come easy. It is the service and sacrifice of thousands of cadres, who championed national issues and pro-people causes with dedication and dignity that has taken this once peripheral party to the centre-stage and then to the number one position.
The BJP has polled 34.89 per cent of votes, and won 110 seats, 30 more than the Congress.
The BJP got a head start over the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) when it named Shri Yeddyurappa as its chief ministerial candidate who, immediately after resigning as the Chief Minister on November 20, started a dharma yuddha against the politics of betrayal.
It would be too simplistic an analysis and unfair to the Sangh parivar cadre as well as BJP workers to attribute the BJP'svictory only to the sympathy factor generated in the aftermath of the withdrawal of support by Shri H.D. Kumaraswamy. Sympathy factor has played a contributory role and the main reason is that the BJP had been successful in projecting itself as an alternative to both the Congress and the Janata parivar. The BJP and in its erstwhile avatar as the BJS had struggled for decades to earn the goodwill of the people, which resulted in winning 110 seats in 2008 elections.
Shri Ramachandra Gowda, an RSS-bred leader, gave an apt analogy: ?It is like a football or hockey match. The man who hits the goal from ?D? position is important, no doubt, but the role of other players is no less significant and important who brings the ball dribbling to the ?D? position after avoiding numerous hurdles. We remember the sacrifice and service of all our leaders and cadre who have struggled since day one. The only way we can pay our true respects to them is by performing well and bring good name to the party and the government.?
The BJP managed to sell itself as a viable alternative to the Congress, which, on the other hand, had no clue of what was happening on the ground. It was so clueless and lost, it is still not been able to find out why it lost so badly, despite placed in an advantageous situation.
The geographical and social reach of the BJP is near total in Karnataka. While it has members from all communities, it is yet to open its account in five districts. Nevertheless, the achievement of getting 110 seats, amidst adverse media reports and the internal understanding between the Congress and the Janata Dal (S), is no mean achievement as it has reached out to new areas, when compared to the 2004 elections.
For the 2008 elections, the BJP got its priorities right in all respects, including preparing a ?focussed? manifesto meant to cater to all sections of society and all regions of the state. The cutting edge for its campaign came in the form of projecting an undisputed leader Shri B.S. Yeddyurappa as its chief ministerial candidate. Given the fact that the Lingayat community was angry against the Janata Dal (S) for betraying one of their man from becoming the Chief Minister, it was quite logical on the part of the BJP to project Shri Yeddyurappa as its CM candidate.
However, the BJP leaders, who have their moorings in the RSS, told the media that left to himself he would not like to discuss caste issues. ?It is the media that makes us to come out with information as to how many communities are provided tickets, etc, etc. Left to myself, I would not like to discuss these caste issue at all,? he told Organiser.
After having struggled hard for decades to come to power, the road ahead is not a bed of roses. It has to confront many forces inimical to nationalist forces, represented by the BJP. The Left and kept intellectuals, who are actually pseudo-intellectuals, would make life difficult for the BJP government. There is no doubt that these forces inimical to Hindutva ideology would come together on one pretext or the other such as social justice, secularism, pro-minorities and make attempts to pillory the BJP.
The BJP leadership needs to muster all their skills and tenacity, intelligence and shrewdness to counter the designs of these forces in the interest of the state. Since, it is imperative to defeat the Congress-led UPA in the interest of the country, the BJP has to perform and conduct exemplarily so as to win the maximum of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The Karnataka BJP unit cannot afford to fail the party at the national level.
It is not that Shri Yeddyurappa is unaware of this. In an interview to Deccan Chronicle, he said, ?I will ensure that the government performs well, we conduct ourselves in a dignified way, enhance the image and credibility of the party and the government, win the faith, confidence and goodwill of the people, and win all the 28 Lok Sabha seats so as to make Shri L.K. Advani the Prime Minister of India.? A noble objective indeed. But no great task is easy. We can trust the ability, wisdom and capability of the BJP leadership, both at the Centre and Karnataka units.
Karnataka was for long a Congress fortress and a bipolar polity with the politics polarised between the Congress and the erstwhile Congress (O), which was the main anti-Congress force. Though the BJS leaders were respected by their opponents for their dedication and commitment, the party, however, was regarded as town-centric.
True to the description?and not really true?the BJS used to win only the graduate constituency elections to the upper house and the first such victory was that of G.S. Ullal, from Mangalore graduates constituency in 1962. Later it was Y.S. Patil from Dharwad in 1967. For the first time, these two districts, Dakshina Kannada and Dharwad came to be considered as the ?stronghold? of the BJS.
However, the BJS tasted its first victory in the direct elections from the Muslim-dominated Bidar in 1965 when its candidate, Narayana Rao Manhalli won purely on nationalist issues that the party was championing. ?In fact, the people started speaking the issues we had taken up such as cow slaughter, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code. We were pleasantly surprised,? said, Shri Manahalli from Bidar, recalling the first victory of the BJS, 42 years ago. He named his son Deepak, to mark the victory of the BJS, the election symbol being lamp, who was born in that year.
Though the BJP came to be recognised as a viable alternative to the Congress at the national level within a short span of six months from the day of its inception, in April 1980, it was not so in Karnataka till it polled 27 per cent of votes and won four Lok Sabha seats in 1991. Before that, however, the party had won 18 seats in the 1983 elections, but lost heavily in the 1985 elections by winning only 2 seats. In 1989 Assembly polls, it won four seats by polling 3.17 per cent of votes.
With the polity heavily polarised between the Congress and the Janata Party, which is nothing but the bulk of the Congress (O), the BJP had to wait for its day patiently but persevering the cause of the people.
When the BJP, after having come to be described by no less than a person like Shri M.C. Chagla, as the only real national alternative to Congress, lost heavily in 1984 elections in the aftermath of the assassination of Smt Indira Gandhi, the cadre was disappointed. However, top leaders like the late Jagannatha Rao Joshi, the late Bhavu Rao Deshpande, the late Karambally Sanjeeva Shetty, the late G.M. Rajachar, the late Jyothi Prakash Salunke, the late Srinivasa Saralayya, the late Dr N. Rajappa, the late K. Venkatappa, the late Manohar Dhammurkar, the late Dr M.R.Tanga?this is only illustrative as the list is exhaustive?strived to keep up the morale of the party workers.
Shri B.S. Yeddyurappa's taking-over as the party president in February 1983 marked a new turning point in the BJP'scareer graph. He championed the cause of farmers vigorously and took the organisation to hitherto unchartered course. The collapse of the Karnataka Rajya Ryot Sangh, due to its internal contradictions as well as ego-centric leadership, was rightly exploited by the BJP, which came to be recognised as the sole political party to strive for the cause of farmers.
Along with the farmers cause, Shri Yeddyurappa planned series of programmes aimed at reaching out to various sections of society, such as weavers, women, SCs/STs, backward classes, youth and minorities. In a way, the BJP started to become a cadre-based mass party in the real and true sense of the word.
The BJP in Karnataka maintained its distinct ideological character by championing the cause of Ayodhya starting from Ram Jyoti Yatra, Shila Poojan and later Shri Advani'sSomnath-Ayodhya Rath Yatra that passed through Humnabad in Bidar district. It evoked a mammoth response. The Kanyakumari-Kashmir Ekta Yatra undertaken by Dr Murli Manohar Joshi also evoked spontaneous response as well as galvanised the organisational machinery.
The efforts put in by the party leadership and the cadre paid off, albeit in a small way when the BJP won 40 seats, for the first time in the 1994 elections. That was the beginning of the rise, as the party had crossed the threshold. In the 1999 elections the party won 44, though it had the potential to win much more. Perhaps, entering into an alliance with the discredited Janata Dal (U) was a strategic mistake.
The BJP took advantage of the collapse of the Janata parivar by weaning away many pro-Hegde leaders who had a good electoral base and managed to give them tickets. The gamble paid off in 2004.
The 2004 election was yet another turning point in the party'shistory when it won 79 seats with 28 per cent of votes. For the first time, it emerged as the single largest party, dislodging both the Congress and the Janata Dal (S)?which had managed to become the rump of the Janata parivar?from being number one and number two positions. The BJP'smoment had arrived.
But the lust for power of the shameless Congress?which had been rejected by the people by sizing down its strength from 165 to mere 65?and Janata Dal (S) prevented the BJP from becoming a ruling party despite having the mandate, though not a numerical majority. Karnataka saw an ?erected? government of losers and not an ?elected? government of the winner.
?The decision of the BJP to join hands with the Janata Dal(S) was correct as it enabled us to get an insight into the intricacies and nuances of governance,? said Shri Ramachandra Gowda. He also defended the decision on the ground that both the BJP and the Janata Dal (S) were anti-Congress parties.
?The coming together of the Congress and Janata Dal (S) in 2004 on the issue of secularism is unjustifiable. Secularism has become a convenient tool for the pseudo-secular and unscrupulous parties to defend and justify the politics of harlotry and debauchery,? Shri Ramachandra Gowda explained.
The refusal of Shri H.D. Kumaraswamy to effect a smooth change of guard was nothing but treachery and betrayal. As rightly said by Shri Arun Jaitley, it is the absence of political morality in public life. But purely from the electoral point of view, it was a blessings in disguise for the BJP to exploit the situation for its advantage. Shri Ramachandra Gowda later proved prophetic when he had said then on November 20 after Shri Yeddyurappa resigned as Chief Minister of eight days, ?We will emerge stronger in purpose and clearer in mind.?