Even as the poll bugle was sounded for 2024 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the prospects of the saffron party in Karnataka, which was considered as the gateway to south India for the BJP, seem to be bleak. The BJP state unit is still waiting for the appointment of Leader of the Opposition in the legislative assembly and council even three months after the poll results were declared on May 10. Never in the history of the state legislature, has the budget session been conducted without a Leader of the Opposition in Karnataka.
At the same time, the Congress is all set to avenge “Operation Lotus” through which the BJP came to power in the state by poaching the grand old party’s leadership. The BJP leadership is making frantic efforts to retain its leaders in its fold. Deputy Chief Minister and Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar has stated that anything can happen in politics and nothing is permanent. The Congress party has reportedly given a specific task to poach leaders from the BJP. The party has prepared a list of 13 to 15 prominent leaders who can win elections on their own and draw them in. If it happens, the BJP will suffer a major blow.
Infighting within the Karnataka BJP is also a matter of concern for the party. Today political circles are abuzz with rumours of a “Reverse Operation Lotus” or “Operation Hast”. The Congress is planning to pull leaders to ensure the defeat of major BJP leaders. There were reports that senior BJP leader V Somanna was approached by the Congress to defeat BJP Yuva Morcha national president Tejasvi Surya from the Bengaluru South seat. Congress is also contemplating to field Sowmya Reddy, former MLA and daughter of Minister for Transport Ramalinga Reddy, against Tejasvi Surya in the Lok Sabha polls.
Former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar will take on Union Minister for Mines, Coal and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi for the Hubballi seat. The Congress is trying to ensure the defeat of Union Minister for State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Shobha Karandlaje from Udupi Chikmagalur MP seat. Though the BJP managed to retain all the Udupi district assembly seats, the party had to bite the dust in Chikkamagaluru district as the Congress won all the seats.
The BJP state leadership is looking towards the high command for a tonic but New Delhi seems to have lost all hope. The Congress is going from strength to strength by implementing its guarantee schemes in the state. It is ensuring that the minority vote bank remains intact through a slew of measures. The major Dalit vote bank seems to be standing with the grand old party. Shivakumar is ensuring that the Vokkaliga vote bank remains intact. There are no signs of the Lingayat vote bank rallying behind the BJP.