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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

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
Photograph by PTI
BJP's South Indian Conquest: Why It's A Work In Progress
outlookindia.com
2019-07-19T16:57:31+05:30

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.

The BJP’s growth in Karnataka began much before the Modi-Shah era, but the recent Lok Sabha results—in which the party bagged 25 of the 28 seats—were its best ever. Compare this with the BJP’s overall southern scoresheet—it got four out of 17 seats in Telangana, but drew a blank in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. With a firm foothold in Karnataka and Telangana, the party is looking to expand in a big way in the south. For that, it is taking cues from the impressive victories in West Bengal and Odisha, where...

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