The BJP state unit Karnataka is on the back foot and Narendra Modi should avoid be seen as interfering in state politics.
On Sunday, February 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited three southern states and also kicked off the Lok Sabha election campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In Karnataka, Modi took pot-shots at the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) combine and said that opposition parties were trying to unite to replicate the instability seen in the state at the Centre. There is little doubt that the Congress-JDS alliance is one born out of political expediency, but the same can be argued of most political alliances.
Modi referred to Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s emotional outbursts and of the differences brewing within the collation partners. However, Modi’s intervention in the political dynamics of the state could have been avoided for two reasons.
One, the state BJP unit is on the political back foot after an audio clip was released on Friday in which former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa is heard in conversation with a JDS MLA’s son. The BJP’s state unit has been up at it to bring down the coalition government. For Modi to intervene at such a time could be seen as the Centre interfering in the state’s affairs.
Two, it’s been hardly a year since Karnataka got a new government and the public might not look kindly at any party that is responsible for toppling it. The BJP might be the single-largest party in the Assembly, but it is too early for people to evaluate the Kumaraswamy government’s performance. Kumaraswamy is a popular leader and the BJP must not underestimate the JDS’ popularity in Karnataka.
The BJP has its pockets of influence in Karnataka but it might not be enough to take on the combined might of a strong regional party like the JDS and an old war horse like the Congress. In the 2018 assembly polls, the Congress and the JDS won 38 and 18 per cent of the votes respectively. The BJP managed 36 per cent. Given this, if the Congress-JDS coalition is to continue, the BJP might not stand much of a chance in the general elections. Winning at least 17 Lok Sabha seats as it did in 2014 will be wishful thinking.
Thus, it’s best for the BJP to let the state unit finds its way in Karnataka and distance Modi from this political drama—at least for the time being.For more Opinion pieces, click here.