Yeddy vs RSS: Internal Conflict Karnataka BJP’s Real Obstacle
After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s landslide victory at the Centre and in Karnataka, the burning question is no longer whether the JD(S)-Congress alliance will fall – instead, the question is how soon will it fall?
Winning 25 of the 28 parliamentary seats in Karnataka, the BJP recorded the largest victory margin by a political party since 1989. A closer look at these numbers show that compared to 2018, when the BJP won only 104 out of the 224 Assembly seats in Karnataka and failed to form the government, the party is in a stronger position now.
In short, if a fresh Assembly election is called in Karnataka, the BJP will win with a majority.
Internal Politics Spell Trouble
The road ahead will not be smooth for the BJP. Making the JD(S)-Congress coalition government’s stand clear, Chief Minister Kumaraswamy has said their government will finish five years. But, this is not the biggest concern for the BJP, since the numbers are in their favour. Instead, their biggest concern is the internal politics within the party.
The BJP in Karnataka has two unofficial factions within the party. First, led by Yeddyurappa comes the only guard of the party which inherited the Lingayat vote bank.
Second is the RSS faction, which believes in the Hindutva politics and is much closer to the central leadership. The RSS faction wants to replace Yeddyurappa with someone younger, like they did in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
But Yeddyurappa, who is a mass leader in Karnataka, is not ready to give up his seat as the chief minister.
Operation Lotus vs Fresh Election
Amidst internal politics, the BJP in Karnataka has two options before it to form the government. First, Operation Lotus. But in the argument between a fresh election and Operation Lotus, sources say, Yeddyurappa is in favour of Operation Lotus, while the RSS faction wants a fresh election.
According to sources, Yeddyurappa fears that if a fresh election is called and the BJP comes to power with majority, he will be replaced by a younger leader. The RSS is already pushing the perspective that the victory in Karnataka was a result of Amit Shah and Modi’s charisma, instead of Yeddyurappa’s leadership. This could be used against him, he fears.
Will Removing Yeddyurappa Backfire?
Removing Yeddyurappa, however won’t be an easy task for the BJP; in fact, it could backfire for them. He is the only mass leader in Karnataka and he enjoys the support of the Lingayat community, which forms roughly 14% of the state’s vote share. Thus, removing Yeddyurappa would bring the wrath of the community on the BJP. And there are historical lessons that proves this fear to be true.
The Lingayats, who are the backbone of the BJP’s vote bank in Karnataka, didn’t originally vote for the BJP, instead they used to be a Congress vote bank.
So in the coming days, one will have to wait and see if BJP would risk a political suicide by removing Yeddyurappa or if the BJP has reached a stage under Modi and Shah, where they could simply bypass the state’s caste politics.
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