With the BJP’s defeat in the Karnataka assembly polls, the party has now vacated its last fort among the five southern states.
Karnataka was the only state in the south where the BJP had managed to form a government on its own. At present, an alliance which includes the BJP is in power in the union territory of Puducherry. The party’s hindutva poll plank, reservation ploy, welfare scheme promises and even the prime minister's marathon rallies failed to secure a victory.
Karnataka was the one state where the BJP had a formidable presence as it had been in power here earlier as well. Buoyed by the trends in favour of the Congress party, addressing the media, former chief minister and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah said Modi’s magic didn’t work in Karnataka.
Speaking to reporters at his residence in Mysuru, Siddaramaiah said: "I had already announced that prime minister Modi's magic won't work in Karnataka and the Congress party will get more than 120 seats."
“The party won't require support of any other political outfit and will form the government on its own,” he added.
In the Kerala assembly at present, the BJP has no MLAs. The only BJP MLA ever in Kerala was O Rajagopal, who won from Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram in 2016. However, in the 2021 elections, no BJP candidate managed to win.
In Tamil Nadu, the BJP won four seats in the 2021 elections, in alliance with AIADMK. This was after two decades of securing no seats in the state assembly polls. Though the BJP has increased its focus in Tamil Nadu, the efforts are unlikely to show any immediate electoral dividend.
In Telangana, though the BJP made inroads by winning five seats in 2014, in the 2018 election the number fell to just one. BJP MLA Raja Singh, who won from Goshamahal constituency, was the sole legislator from the saffron party. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP improved its tally in Telangana as they bagged four out of 17 MP seats. The party polled nearly 19.45% of the total votes.
With Telangana heading to the polls in a few months, the BJP has been working aggressively on the ground. However, the Congress has stepped up its game with Priyanka Gandhi appointed in charge of the state. The Karnataka victory has bolstered the party in Telangana.
The BJP’s luck, however, has shined in two bye-elections in Telangana – in Dubbaka and Huzurabad constituencies. The party’s tally has risen to three legislators following their success in the two bye-elections.
In Andhra Pradesh’s first assembly election since its bifurcation, the BJP had won four seats in 2014. In the 2019 elections, however, the saffron party could not open its accounts. The party has been raking up several issues and also highlighting incidents of temple desecration and idol vandalism as “state sponsored” in a bid to portray Jagan Mohan Reddy as an ‘anti- Hindu’ chief minister. How much of these efforts will be reflected in the electoral ballot remains to be seen.
For now, with the loss in Karnataka, the impact of the result will be felt in the neighbouring south Indian states.
The story was originally published in the News Minute here.
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