GP polls help BJP strengthen cadre base in south Karnataka | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: BJP’s high-decibel campaign involving national functionaries from across the country for the recent Hyderabad municipal corporation elections (GHDMC) had raised many eyebrows. But the outcome was overwhelming for the saffron party which came too close for comfort of the ruling Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS).
Cut to the recent gram panchayat elections in Karnataka: The same intent and fire power were pressed into service with BJP using all its cabinet ministers, MPs and former MLAs to rally its troops for building a cadre base for the future.

Though fought on apolitical lines, BJP was the first of the blocks to prepare for GP elections after a resounding victory in the Sira and RR Nagar bypolls.
“While it may be an apolitical fight, it was always a give-and-take relationship between those contesting the polls and political parties. They take our help and in turn, give us their base to build the party for future,” said a BJP legislator.
While it was always going to be a straight fight between BJP and Congress in Mumbai-Karnataka, Hyderabad-Karnataka and Byalaseema regions, and a one-sided affair in coastal districts, the bigger surprise has come from Old Mysuru region where the saffron wave appears to be getting stronger, much to the concern of the Congress and JD(S) leadership. Such was the seriousness with which BJP contested the GP polls that it identified its own party’s primary membership card holders or their families to contest the elections. Sources said 85 to 90 per cent of BJP-backed candidates were its members, giving them direct access to party resources for the elections. And the numbers claimed by BJP seemed to prove the strategy.
According to BJP state general secretary N Ravi Kumar, who was also party in-charge of Old Mysuru region for the GP polls, the party has made inroads into places where it had never dreamt of 10 years ago.
BJP has outperformed its own results from 2015 by doubling numbers in Mysuru, increasing presence in Chamarajnagar and denting Congress voteshare in Mandya and Hassan, he said.
“In Mandya, a district where our sympathisers had won only three panchayats and 125 seats in 2015, as of December 31, we are in a position to form 40 panchayats and have 817 candidates winning polls,” said Kumar.
According to an MLC, BJP has broken into the voteshare of Congress and JD(S) in Old Mysuru region and is in a position to put up a strong fight in the next urban local body polls and 2023 general elections.
However, according to political pundits like former media adviser to CM BS Yediyurappa, Mahadev Prakash, the elections are not a mandate for BJP. “While at the outset, BJP may have expanded its footprint in south Karnataka, this election is not a mandate for the party. A lot of money, muscle and political power are involved in GP polls. Voters tend to believe that if they go with the ruling party, then there is a possibility of development,” he said.
Insiders believe the victories claimed by BJP in south Karnataka is primarily based on individuals and turncoats like KC Narayan Gowda, ST Somashekar, K Sudhakar and Byrathi Basavaraju who have used their influence to the fullest.
“This may go any time,” said one insider.

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Sagar Biswas

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