Hurt in Karantaka, BJP looks to keep up anti-Congress campaign

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 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 about 40 seats. It had won 110 seats in the 2008 assembly elections.

Elections were held May 5 to 223 seats of the 224-member Karnataka assembly, which has one seat reserved for the Anglo-Indian community. In the counting of votes Wednesday, the Congress coasted an easy victory.

The BJP was late afternoon staring at the ignominy of finishing third behind the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular. 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 sit and analyse what went wrong,” BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told IANS.

He said corruption was an issue in the Karnataka polls and added that it would work against the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

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

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.

“The results are disappointing,” he said.

Defending the party’s decision to replace Yeddyurappa as the chief minister, Siddharth Nath Singh the decision was taken in the wake of Karnataka Lokayukta report.

Yeddyurappa’s KJP was poised to win seven seats in the largely four-cornered contest in the state.

“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 and declare Modi for the post.

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.

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