Friday, May 20, 2022
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BJP's South Indian Conquest: Why It's A Work In Progress

The BJP has more than a foothold in Karnataka but in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the party's Hindutva narrative may need to change

BJP's South Indian Conquest: Why It's A Work In Progress
BJP's South Indian Conquest: Why It's A Work In Progress Photograph by PTI

The news from across the Vindhyas so far hasn’t been heartening to the BJP—except in Karnataka, where a political cliffhanger is playing out, close behind the party’s near-sweep in Lok Sabha polls. Chairing a mee­ting of the BJP’s key leaders last month, Union home minister Amit Shah said the party’s success story would be complete only when it conquers the region south of the Vindhyas that has been largely elusive to the saffron brigade for many years. Meanwhile, the Karnataka muddle is brimming with sub-plots, much of which is of the discordant JD(S)-­Congress coalition’s own making, though aided by a BJP impatient to form the government.

Though it is the single largest party in Karnataka’s assembly, the numbers needed for the BJP to wrest power seemed a bit out of reach until July when, suddenly, 16 ruling coalition MLAs brought the H.D. Kumara­swamy government to a precarious perch. CM Kumaraswamy recently tweeted the flight manifest of a ­charter aircraft as proof that BJP men had been escorting Congress legis­lators to Mahara­shtra, where rebel MLAs had been holding out ahead of the vote of confidence in the Karnataka assembly.

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