BJP to pay a heavy price for rebellions, Amul-Nandini controversy
The controversy surrounding the Amul and Nandini brands has dented the image of the party ahead of the polls
The Karnataka BJP unit is upbeat about its chances in the May 10 assembly elections. The saffron party has gone one step ahead in replicating the Gujarat model in the state by allotting 52 tickets to new candidates in the first list and denying tickets to seven sitting MLAs in the second list.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has stated that the opponents are already shivering after seeing the list of candidates. Sources said that this was much needed in the interest of the party. However, it is posing a serious challenge to the BJP as the dropped MLAs are rebelling, especially the senior leaders who have vowed to prove themselves by joining hands with political rivals of the BJP.
Sources in the party said that the leaders have been told by the high command not to worry about the rebel candidates and they will take care of the situation. The campaign blitzkrieg of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been planned in such a way that the state would be swamped by a saffron wave.
However, the controversy surrounding the Amul and Nandini brands has dented the image of the party ahead of the polls. First it was an allegation of Hindi imposition on curd packets. The central agency withdrew it after facing a backlash not only in Karnataka, but in other south Indian states also.
When things seemed to be settling down, the BJP delivered another issue on a silver platter to the opposition by beginning to sell Amul milk and curd packets directly in Karnataka.
The Opposition and Kannada activists came out on the streets to protest the move. Soon, the issue was linked to the survival of the farmers who depend on selling milk to the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF). The BJP which initially ignored the agitation against Amul, later tried to control the damage by explaining how steps are being taken to strengthen the KMF and the Nandini brand.
The Opposition Congress and JD (S) used the controversy to reach out to the people of the state and successfully created suspicion about the BJP merging the Nandini brand with Amul.
The party is also dealing with the rebellion of its leaders, following the release of the first and second list of candidates. Controversial leader K.S. Eshwarappa was asked to retire from electoral politics. The party denied a ticket to former deputy CM Lakshman Savadi while former CM Jagadish Shettar's ticket is yet to be announced. According to sources the high command is not interested in him.
Senior BJP leaders former deputy CM R. Ashoka and Minister V. Somanna have been given challenging tasks. They will take on Karnataka Congress president D.K. Shivakumar and Opposition leader Siddaramaiah respectively.
The party has managed to rein in Eshwarappa. Lakshman Savadi has declared war on the BJP and will most likely join the Congress. Jagadish Shettar is waiting for his ticket in the third list and he is claiming that he will talk after getting some clarity. The high command had summoned him to Delhi and managed to contain him.
The party has taken a major decision to check the anti-incumbency factor in the coastal Karnataka districts. It is fielding six new faces in place of the sitting MLAs. Six-time MLA and minister S. Angara has resigned from the primary membership of the BJP following the development. Veteran BJP leader Halady Srinivasa Shetty had also announced his retirement.
The BJP is presently facing a rebellion in more than 20 constituencies. BJP sitting MLA from Udupi constituency Raghupathy Bhat who missed the ticket stated that he came to know about the denial of a ticket from the media. This was not the way to treat a senior leader like him, he added.
Former minister Goolihatti Shekar, sitting MLA from Belagavi North Anil Benake, former minister Sogadu Shivanna, MLC R. Shankar who were denied tickets have given clear hints of joining hands with the opposition parties. The party has also not announced a ticket for former minister and senior BJP leader S. Ramdas from Mysuru district.
Tamil Nadu BJP president Annamalai, who is touring the state, has stated that according to him the BJP would win 150 seats in Karnataka. Tejasvi Surya, Bengaluru South MP and BJP Yuva Morcha national president, has stated that the BJP is the only party to groom party workers into leaders. Stalwarts such as Yediyurappa and Halady Srinivasa Shetty have set standards to accommodate future candidates and it shows how different the BJP is when compared to other parties.
Tejasvi Surya has also stated that the BJP has given prominence to new faces. It is to be seen how the BJP's experiment will work for the party in the assembly elections.