Basavaraj Bommai, the outgoing Chief Minister of Karnataka, who led the party’s campaign in the recently concluded assembly elections, told DailyExpertNews today that the Congress started its campaign early and BJP messages in the state went wrong.
The BJP, which ruled the state, won 66 of the 224 assembly seats. The Congress won 135 and HD Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal Secular 19 seats.
When asked about the lessons learned from the results, Mr. Bommai cited three reasons for the congress’s victory. The people, he said, were “influenced by freebies”.
Then, “Personally, I feel that the Congress was more organized and started earlier, which otherwise BJP always did… We made our decisions a little bit late, acted late,” he told DailyExpertNews in the exclusive interview.
Finally, even though the BJP government carried out many programs, the “right messages were not getting to the people… (the government’s) important decisions were not reaching the people,” he added.
He pointed out that the BJP’s vote share did not change and said the party’s penetration into southern Karnataka, a stronghold of the JD(S), has also helped the Congress. “Five percent of the JD(S) vote went to Congress,” he said.
The BJP had maintained its 36 percent vote share as of 2018, but Congress’s vote share increased from 38.1 percent to 42.9 percent. The JD(S) vote fell from 18.3 to 13.3 percent.
Looking ahead, Mr Bommai said it would take a few months for the situation in the BJP camp to improve.
“I take full blame. A leader has to take the blame. Only then can it move forward… The most important thing is that we have to prepare the party quite early for the Lok Sabha election. We have to bring in new blood and new thinking at all levels. We need to rejuvenate our employees. In three to six months things will change and help us,” he said.
Karnataka sends 28 MPs to the Lok Sabha, making it a major battleground state.
When asked about the position of the leader of the opposition, Mr Bommai, who will be one of the top BJP MLAs in the house, remained non-committal and said he would strengthen the party campaign whether he holds the position or not.
“As a responsible man, I do not rely on the post… whether the Leader of the Opposition is given to me. The overall responsibility lies with me… I was Prime Minister for two years and have given many good programs. It’s up to me to put it to the people again,” he said.