Mangaluru, Jan 15, 2018: The BJP’s organisational network in coastal and northern Karnataka has become a bane for the ruling Congress, ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in the state. Though the Congress had fared well in the 2013 Assembly elections in the two regions, it feels that the BJP is trying to stir the communal cauldron in these areas as its aims to win back Karnataka, which the saffron party views as its gateway to southern India.
“We apprehend trouble in these two regions as the BJP will try to keep these regions on the boil ahead of the elections. Plus, they have strong organisational support here,” a senior Congress leader said.
Coastal Karnataka accounts for 21 seats while North Karnataka has 56 seats of the 224 seats in the Karnataka Assembly. In a bid to consolidate its fragmented voters in the region, the BJP has stepped up the heat on the Karnataka government over the murders of Hindu activists Deepak Rao (Suarthkal) and Paresh Mesta (Honnavar) in the coastal region. The BJP has claimed that at least 24 workers belonging to right-wing organisations have been killed in the state since 2015. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addressed a rally in Hubbali in northern Karnataka in December and launched a personal attack on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
The north Karnataka region has Assembly constituencies, of which the Congress had won 34 in 2013.
A Congress leader said the party had focussed its energies on strengthening the organisational structure in these areas with an aim of defusing any attempts at creating communal tension in the regions.
Congress leaders believe that a virtually non-existent organisation in Uttar Pradesh and weak party structure in urban Gujarat cost it dearly in the Assembly elections in the two states. While the Congress faced a wash out in Uttar Pradesh, its dismal performance in the urban parts of Gujarat prevented it from forming the government in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state.