The first BJP government in Karnataka has completed 100 days in office. For a government elected for five years, three months and ten days are too short a time span to set its administrative agenda into operation. And it is equally impetuous to make a judgment of its performance. At best one can visualise the road map, the vision statement of the new dispensation.
Karnataka is special in many ways. That is why we made this exception of bringing out this Special. This is the first BJP government in South of the Vindhyas. Except perhaps for Yeddyurappa and few senior leaders of the BJP, nobody was quite sure of the BJP making it to the victory stand in the election. The media had practically painted it the underdog. Analysts gave it the second position. Anti-incumbency was expected to bring the Congress back to power.
Karnataka was always considered an impregnable fortress of the Congress. Both Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi when they found the going tough in North India turned to Karnataka. Andhra is the only other state with this distinction. Today Karnataka is a BJP bastion. In fact, the Congress invincibility was a myth created by the media. How the BJP took Karnataka by storm is a gripping narrative in political cadre building. It is the strong RSS net work?first nurtured by stalwarts like Yadavrao Joshi and H.V. Seshadri, excellent publications, dedicated full timers?who generated the atmosphere for change.
The BJP growth has defied many definitions. For years the usual refrain in anti-BJP discourse was that it was the fertile political soil of post- partition riots that gave the Jan Sangh its initial cutting edge in North India. Then its critics termed the party as a political expression of Hindu revivalists and traders. When the party grew into more areas and increased its tally both in Parliament and state assemblies, its critics dismissed it as the result of ?cow belt? fascination for Hindi, Hindu and holy cow. The BJP continued to grow, register more victories in adivasi and reserved constituencies than most other parties who claimed monopoly support of this social segment. It won more rural seats than urban. But, for its perennial critics it was a party of urban India and upper caste middle class. With the Ramjanmabhumi agitation all these characterisations changed. The BJP became a pan-India phenomenon, ruling in more states than the Congress. But the adversaries said, the BJP has reached its peak. And it is a party of North and no Southern state will accept its brand of political ideology.
The Karnataka victory has changed all that and the critics have suddenly gone silent. Their silence is so eloquent that it again shows their frustration. There has not been a single intellectually competent and academically sound analysis or dissertation about the BJP win in Karnataka. This is surprising. If the BJP had lost there would have been awesome reams of formulations on the factors that they always knew. Veteran RSS leader Seshadriji used to talk about this propaganda assiduously carried out by the Congress-Left activists. That its opponents had to change again and again their argument for the growth of the BJP in the country and that the BJP has not stopped growing show the strength of the BJP ideology, and the fallacy of its opponent'strumpeting.
The BJP win in Karnataka has not come as a fluke. In the following pages some of our learned writers explain the BJP odyssey. All the great builders of the party from Deendayal Upadhyaya, Jagannathrao Joshi, AB Vajpayee, L K Advani, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh have been giving equal time and interest for the southern states in the last four decades. They tirelessly campaigned from village level to state head quarters, their itinerary covered the nook and corner of the country. This is because of their immutable faith in the oneness of the country and the belief that efforts for ideological penetration should surpass considerations of electoral prospects.
In the 2004 election the state party chief Ananth Kumar made a determined campaign to capture power in Vidhan Saudha, Bengaluru. He almost succeeded, winning for the BJP maximum number of seats, pushing both Janata Dal(S) and Congress to the background. The BJP emerged the single largest party. But the defeated got together to form government and to keep the BJP out. In that election also the popularity of Yeddyurappa did not go unnoticed. Equally important was the hard work put in by Ananth Kumar.
Yeddyurappa is a charismatic leader. He is the darling of the farmers in Karnataka. He has a modern approach and understands the sinews of modern day governance. His 22-month tenure as the deputy chief minister in the BJP-JD(S) government provided him with ample scope to display his administrative acumen. Some of the novel ideas he implemented as Finance Minister endeared him to the masses. His effort to bridge the rural urban gap and bring farmers to the forefront of economic matrix in the state earned him wide admiration. The BJP in the process was emerging as the party of power.
The state election, this time was essentially a test of Yeddyurappa'spopularity and the BJP'swinnability in South. On both the mandate was clear. The BJP worked as one man. It again proved its critics wrong.
Karnataka Chief Minister has set a heavy target for himself. All his promises are time bound. And his promise is to make some visible changes in the style of governance. He said this will start showing in hundred days. His initiatives to herald a new chapter in the state'shistory are on anvil. That is why we have decided to focus on the state this week.
In a wide ranging interview, Yeddyurappa has set the tone of this special focus. His success, his style and approach are being keenly watched by the entire nation. Like Narendra Modi in Gujarat, Yeddyurappa has promised to change the face of Karnataka in the next five years. His emphasis is on development, governance, prosperity and peace. There will be many who would love to see him fail. For, he represents a paradigm shift in Karnataka politics. In every sense he is different. It is not royal pedigree but hard grassroot work that made him what he is today. He is one of the senior most BJP leaders in the state. Right from the Jan Sangh days he toiled to make the party grow. He led many farmer agitations. His mission now is to ensure that agriculture in the state becomes a profitable career option, as much as to ensure that the state retains its IT forte.
Within this short span he had to brave two formidable challenges. First, the opposition tried to instigate the farmers in the name of fertilizer scarcity. Then terror struck Bengaluru with serial blasts. Karnataka has become a haven for fundamentalists and terror modules because of the political patronage they enjoy. This is another serious challenge for the BJP government.
The BJP has to make a success of Karnataka for its onward march. Its success in the state will change the political landscape of the country. This is the daunting task awaiting Yeddyurappa.