BJP pressing firepower in 60-odd seats where it’s weak in poll-bound Karnataka

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Bengaluru: Having set an ambitious target of winning 150 seats to retain power, the ruling BJP in Karnataka is pressing all its firepower on 60-odd constituencies, where it is weak or has never won an election.

The party has adopted a multipronged approach, which includes extensive touring of its top leadership in these constituencies, assigning of special tasks to the cadre on the ground, identifying fresh faces within or inducting winnable candidates from outside.

“We are working on all the seats together categorising them into A,B and C. (A means seats where victory is assured, B is where there is some difficulty, but can be won, and C means seats that are difficult),” state BJP General Secretary Mahesh Tenginakai told PTI.

Leaders are already travelling across the state with one team headed by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and BJP strongman B S Yediyurappa, while the other under party president Nalin Kumar Kateel, he said.

Elections to the 224-member Karnataka Assembly is due by May.

“There are about sixty odd seats where BJP is weak or has never won and majority of them are in the Mysuru or old Mysuru region (Vokkaliga heartland dominated by Congress and JDS), we are concentrating more on them…… We are working and by December we may have a figure as to how many of these seats we will be able to win,” Tenginakai further said.

The Old Mysuru region, where 89 seats are up for grabs, is spread across 11 districts in south Karnataka including Mysuru, Mandya, Chamarajnagar, Hassan and Kolar, and it is here that the BJP is sharply focusing on.

Meetings of booth presidents, BLAs (Booth Level Agents), and party workers are being held across the region, aimed at mobilising them for the elections; especially in areas where the BJP doesn’t have much dominance, strategies are being developed and implemented through mass contact programmes, he added.

According to a party functionary, aimed at garnering support in favour of the party and converting them into votes in these 60 odd constituencies, where BJP is weak or has never won, booth level workers will be holding mass public contact drives, banking on the beneficiaries of central and state government schemes.

BJP has been making consistent efforts to make inroads into constituencies or regions where it is not strong, especially in the old Mysuru region, aimed at reaping political dividends.

In the 2018 polls, the BJP managed to win one seat in Hassan; later in a high-voltage 2019 bypolls, it managed to win the K R Pet seat, its first victory in Mandya district, and also won Chikkballapur, another first.

Creating history of sorts, the party bagged the Sira assembly segment in Tumakuru district for the first time in November, 2020 by polls.

Another party functionary said, to manage a win in these “difficult constituencies”, the party is looking at finding new winnable faces from within or from other parties, and induction of some leaders into BJP recently, is part of that effort.

Former Congress leader S P Muddahanumegowda, actor-turned politician Shashi Kumar, and retired IAS officer Anil Kumar B H among others joined the BJP last week.

Of them, Kunigal and Koratagere assembly seats from where Muddahanumegowda and Anil Kumar are expecting tickets respectively, are among the constituencies where BJP has never won in the past.

The party also hopes to convert the majority of the 25-30 seats that the BJP has won only once in the last four assembly polls into a winnable segments this time, along with an eye on nearly 65 seats in which it ended as runner-up, during the last (2018) assembly election.

In 2018 polls, BJP won 104 seats in the 224-member legislative assembly; however, its tally increased during the subsequent bypolls held following multiple defections.

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