Drubbed in Karnataka, BJP looks to keep up anti-Congress campaign

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New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) Disappointed by the poll verdict in Karnataka, the BJP Wednesday sought to downplay the impact of the results on the momentum of its campaign against the UPA government and said it will work on correctives.

BJP leaders said that the result in Karnataka was “disappointing” and “below expectations”, but asserted that the issue of corruption will hit the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in the Lok Sabha polls due in 2014.

The BJP suffered a major jolt in Karnataka, the only southern state it ruled, with its tally expected to be just 40 seats. It had won 110 seats in the 2008 assembly elections.

Elections were held May 5 to 223 seats of the 225-member Karnataka assembly, which has one seat reserved for the Anglo-Indian community. Congress coasted an easy victory in the polls in which several constituencies saw four-cornered contest.

The BJP was poised to tie with Janata Dal-Secular for the second spot. Its prospects were hurt in several constituencies by former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who floated his Karnataka Janatha Paksha (KJP) after quitting the BJP.

“There is a lesson in every election. The party will analyse what went wrong,” BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told IANS.

The BJP’s parliamentary board met Wednesday evening to take stock of the results.

Naqvi said corruption was an issue in the Karnataka polls and added that the issue will work against the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

He said that elections to four more state assemblies were scheduled at the end of the year and the BJP had bright prospects in all of them.

Party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress had scored victory due to split in BJP votes caused by Yeddyurappa’s exit.

However, he defended the decision on replacing Yeddyurappa as chief minister due to serious issue of corruption and Lokayukta taking cognizance of the matter.

BJP general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the party was upset and unhappy about the loss.

BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh said the party failed to address the issue of corruption in Karnataka and that caste calculus also did not work in favour of the party.

“We stood for fighting against corruption but failed in political management of the issue,” a party leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told IANS.

The leader said Yeddyurappa’s exit had dented the party’s support base and that there could be realignment with the former chief minister, who belongs to the politically significant Lingayat community.

“His exit has made a difference. It (realignment or joining back) is possible before Lok Sabha polls,” the BJP leader said.

He said the party was expecting to win at least 60 seats in Karnataka.

He also sought to delink Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and its other central leaders, who had campaigned in Karanataka, from the poll outcome.

“It was a state election. Modi should be judged for his peformance in Gujarat or if he is made campaign in-charge for the Lok Sabha polls,” the leader said.

Political analyst Aswini K. Ray said that the BJP had “goofed up” Karnataka and results were “a predictable set-back” for the party.

He said that the BJP failed to muster skills to prevent an impending defeat.

“The verdict in Karnataka would put little wind in the Congress sails after the tottering situation of scams,” said Ray, a former professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

He said the Karnataka results “had weakened” the BJP’s campaign against the Congress-led central government on corruption, but the UPA government will continue to face the heat on scandals that had surfaced during its rule.

Ray also said that Karnataka results could spur demands in the BJP to take an unambiguous decision on the prime ministerial candidate.

BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said that the Congress should not feel too elated over the Karanataka poll outcome.

“If the Congress feels confident, let them prepone (Lok Sabha) elections,” he said.

A meeting of newly elected BJP MLAs is slated at Bangalore May 14 to elect leader of legislature party.

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