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BJP initiates campaign to make inroads into southern states

LiveMint logoLiveMint 08-05-2017 Sharan Poovanna

Bengaluru: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday initiated their ‘Southern push’ campaign and have stated that Karnataka will assume the mantle in the saffron party’s penetration and expansion in the south region where Congress and regional parties have dominated power.

The campaign is part of the national party’s efforts to make inroads into southern states where BJP is still considered a ‘North Indian’ party with little connection to the South, whose cultural and linguistic heritage is very different from the rest of the country.

“Karnataka will become a lamp-post in the entire south,” P. Muralidhar Rao, national general secretary and Karnataka in-charge of the party said in a live interview aired on social media platform Facebook. “When we are having ambitions of becoming important party in southern states, Karnataka is going to be the leading state for BJP’s expansion campaign,” Rao said.

Karnataka became the first state in the South to elect a BJP government in 2008. However, scams like illegal mining and corruption charges impacted the BJP government that saw three chief ministers in its five-year term in Karnataka. The party was reduced to 40 seats in 2013 from 110 it won in 2008.

Though the party has made some inroads in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Karnataka continues to be its only hope for power in the South as the state is heading to the polls in 2018. BJP, which was handed an embarrassing defeat in the Nanjangud and Gundlupet byelections in April, has set an ambitious target to win 150 of the 224 seats with no alliance in the assembly elections in 2018.

Rao also said that the state unit has set a target of bagging over 25 out of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. The state has 13 BJP Lok Sabha members from Karnataka currently.

But infighting in the party between B.S. Yeddyurappa and leader of the opposition in the council K.S. Eshwarappa has consumed much of the party’s resources for nearly a year now.

The party has been divided into two camps at a time when other parties are readying its campaigns for next year. Even the central leadership has been unable to resolve the issue that threatens to dent the party’s prospects of returning to power next year.

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