<br>”The party has not only survived and thrived in the southern state, but is also back in power for the third time despite setbacks and opportunistic politics of the rival Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S),” party's state unit spokesman G. Madhusudhan told IANS here.
Though Karnataka has been the BJP's gateway to South India, its march in the region halted at its border, as the regional parties and national parties have been entrenched over the years in each neighbouring state.
The ruling AIADMK and opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu, YSR Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in Telangana dominate the southern political landscape while the Congress and the CPM have kept the BJP on the fringes in Kerala.
By carving Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 despite strong opposition by the BJP and TDP, the Congress committed hara-kiri. as it was ousted from power in both the neighbouring states since the simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections in May 2014.
“We have been in Karnataka since the Jan Sangh days due to strong political, social and cultural roots in the state, with the Rashtriya Swayam Sangha (RSS) as a launchpad,” Madhusudhan noted.
The formation of the Janata Party and subsequently Janata Dal (United) in the state during the mid-1980s by the socialist leaders with then estranged Congressmen blocked the BJP's attempt to position itself as an alternative power centre in Karnataka.
“Our party's rapid growth in the western, northern and central regions of the country since 1990s and coming to power at the Centre after the 1996, 1 998 and 1999 general elections inspired the party's local leaders to build its state unit as an alternative power centre in Karnataka,” recalled Madhusudhan.
With the help of local but powerful leaders such as chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, former and late Union minister Ananth Kumar and present Union Ministers D. V. Sadananda Gowda and Prahlad Joshi, the BJP emerged as the main opposition party after the 2004 assembly elections in the state delivered a hung verdict.
Though Aa poll-battered Congress joined hands with its arch rival JD-S to form the state's first coalition government in May 2004, the BJP came to power in Karnataka for the first time in February 2006 when JD-S leader H.D. Kumaraswamy toppled the Congress-led Dharam Singh government and formed the second coalition government in the state, with the BJP on a 20-month power sharing agreement.
As is its wont, the JD-S betrayal of the coalition dharma led to the fall of the BJP-led coalition government in the state in October and November 2007, paving way for a 6-month President's rule in the state and mid-term polls in April-May 2008.
Although the BJP scrambled to power on its own for the first time in the state, with Yediyurappa as its first chief minister in south India, it was 5 short off the halfway mark (113) for a simple majority in the 225-member Assembly, including one nominated.
By enacting its powerplay aOperation Kamal', a defiant BJP managed to secure simple majority by forcing 6-7 Congress and JD-S resign and win in the assembly by-elections to remain in power for 5 years through a tumultuous period.
Yediyurappa's dramatic resignation in July 2011 over the alleged graft charges in the multi-crore mining scam that rocked the state and the lack-lustre performance of the Sadananada Gowda and Jagadish Shettar governments from August 2011 to April 2013, ousted the BJP from power in the May 2013 assembly elections.
By quitting the BJP and contesting against it in the 2013 assembly elections after floating the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) as a regional outfit, Yediyurappa dealt a body blow to the saffron party, which waited till May 2018 to sniff power again.
Yedyiurappa rejoined the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on the insistence of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and led the party to power at the Centre by winning 18 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Though the BJP won 105 seats in the May 2018 assembly polls, Yediyurappa staked claim to power and formed the second BJP government in the state on May 17, 2018 but resigned on May 19, 2018 as his party fell 8-9 short off of the simple majority to survive.
Though post-poll alliance to solely keep the BJP out of power made the Congress form a coalition government with the JD-S on May 23, 2018, revolt by 17 rebels in both the parties led to its fall on July 23, 2019 after 14 months of tumultuous rule.
Yediyurappa and the BJP proved to be third time lucky to return to power on July 26, 2019 to govern the state till the 5-year term of the present assembly lapses in May 2023.
By winning 26 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the May 2019 general elections and 12 of the 15 assembly by-elections in December 2019, the BJP consolidated its position in the state as never before./Eom/880 words.