The BJP in Karnataka seems to be finding it very hard to get on to firm ground, politically. And now that the rift between former CM Yeddyurappa and former deputy CM KS Eshwarappa is growing ever deeper, even the opposition Congress and JD(S) are sensing that electoral victory might be in their hands. 

 

Political observers, like Dr Sandeep Shastri, Pro Vice Chancellor, Jain University, says that complacency is highly visible in BJP - be it among state leaders or even the high command - when it comes to Karnataka. 

 

"They think the 'musical chairs' nature of state politics, which changes every five years, will give them an edge. This is pushing them on to the back foot, as party discipline has gone for a toss," he said. 

 

Indeed. Within the BJP, state leaders seem preoccupied in positioning themselves as the sole 'big' leader, second to none, leading to unending internal fights. The infighting has only increased after BS Yeddyurappa was made the party president and given charge of all segments of the party. 


This decision of the BJP high command has irked other leaders, who have many issues with his style of functioning. The fact that he had left the BJP in 2013 to form a rival Karnataka Janata Party, before re-entering the party in 2014, has only increased resistance to his leadership. 

 

Such infighting is very costly. After all, the BJP lost the last elections as it became a divided house after Yeddyurappa and his followers floated the KJP. This move divided the vote share as well - which proved decisive. 


"The present tussle between BS Yeddyurappa and KS Eshwarappa is very evident that all is not well in the party.  This apart, the age factor has gone against Yeddyurappa. The party would prefer a young and dynamic face to fight the state elections," Shastri added. 


Congress working president, Dinesh Gundu Rao, claimed that the BJP in Karnataka was bankrupt when it came to leaders.  

 

"Earlier it was the formation of the KJP that dented the BJP. And now the rift due to the formation of the Rayanna brigade by ES Eshwarappa will drown the party. For Congress, it will be easy as it has shown proper administration in the last four years," Rao said.


The Congress is itself not without such issues, however. As the BJP pointed out in its counterattack, Congress leaders like Janardhana Poojary (a former central minister) and former minister Vishwanath have been calling Congress CM Siddaramaiah a dictator. 


Senior politician and former minister Srinivas Prasad also quit the Congress and joined the BJP. The BJP alleged that this was a reflection of the fact that the Congress's days in power were numbered.


However, the BJP has felt the sting of the internal squabbles, despite their efforts to downplay it. 


"The BJP will resolve its issues after the upcoming elections in five states. All our central leaders are busy in their respective states. After that, a meeting will be held, and the differences will be ironed out. The issue in the state BJP are very minor," said S Suresh Kumar, a former minister and BJP spokesperson.

 

Perhaps, but as long as the BJP's inter-party squabbles continue to dominate the news cycle in Karnataka, it appears that their chances of winning the next election might go up in smoke. The time for internal unity is now.