In Karnataka, BJP vs BJP Could Derail Party's 'Mission South' Lok Sabha Plan

In the 2019 election the BJP swept Karnataka, winning 25 of its 28 seats, while the Congress and the JDS won one each, with the final seat going to an independent.

The BJP is facing a test after it named K Sudhakar as its Chikballapur candidate.


The BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular) last week announced a "win-win" alliance for Karnataka's 28 Lok Sabha seats; the BJP will contest 25 and the JDS three in the Vokkaliga belt, where the former seems to have little traction and in which it lost ground to the Congress in the 2023 Assembly election.

Ex-Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai hailed the deal and pointed to complementary vote banks with "no clashes". Mr Bommai also pointed to a "good relationship between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda (who is the JDS' founder and patriarch)".

READ | "Win-Win": Basavaraj Bommai On Seat Sharing With HD Kumaraswamy

However, days later there are on-ground differences that could threaten the born-again alliance and the BJP's hopes of a second successive sweep of the state's Lok Sabha seats. Mr Modi's party has set itself a big target - 370+ seats on its own steam and 400+ with its NDA allies, including the JDS.

BJP's Chikballapur Conundrum

Perhaps the most serious difference is from Chikballapur in the southern Karnataka, where the BJP's choice of candidate has led to a squabble within its ranks. On Monday the party announced K Sudhakar, the Health Minister in the Basavaraj Bommai government - as the Chikballapur candidate.

The announcement, however, has not gone down well with Yelahanka MLA SR Vishwanath, whose Assembly segment falls within the Chikballapur parliamentary constituency.

Mr Vishwanath wants his son - Alok Vishwanath - to be the party's candidate and his supporters have even begun a 'Go Back Sudhakar' campaign against their own party leader.

READ | 3 Seats For HD Deve Gowda's Party As BJP Seals Karnataka Deal

Visuals of the protest show a large crowd of Mr Vishwanath's supporters carrying BJP flags and symbols, as well as posters and placards demanding Mr Sudhakar's candidature be withdrawn.

The visuals also showed burning tires stacked on public roads.

Sources have told NDTV Mr Sudhakar - a two-time MLA from the Chikballapur Assembly seat, which he lost to the Congress last year - will meet his party colleague to iron out these differences.

"He is a senior leader and tried getting a seat for his son, which isn't wrong," he said, adding, "But the party has decided to let me contest after considering everything. I will speak to him."

Tension In Tumakuru

The BJP and the JDS are at loggerheads in Tumakuru too, which less than a 100 km away from Chikballapur. A joint meeting here was marred by clashes between party workers who are used to being rivals and who have, apparently, not yet adjusted to being on the same side.

In an embarrassing moment for the BJP-JDS alliance, party workers fought on stage during a campaign event for their common candidate V Somanna, the former Housing Minister.

READ | BJP, JDS Workers Clash In Karnataka, Friction In Alliance

On this occasion, the trouble started after a JDS MLA - MT Krishnappa - hit out at the BJP's Kondajji Vishwanath, whom he held responsible for his defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Latest and Breaking News on NDTV

The Tumakuru face-off underlined the size of the challenge facing the BJP (and the JDS) in this election, after the Congress' emphatic win in the 2023 Assembly election.

BJP, JDS Wave Aside Small Differences

Similar scenes were witnessed in Hassan too, leaving senior leaders from both sides worried about coordination at the grassroot. For now those concerns have been played down; the BJP's National General Secretary, CT Ravi, said "Small differences of opinion will arise. Such small fights may happen but we will win in Tumakuru and JDS will win in Mandya. We will help each other out."

JDS leader Nikhil Kumaraswamy, who is party boss HD Kumaraswamy's son, said the same thing.

"Some differences are there. This is a new alliance. This has just been formed. We have formed a meeting with the party workers of both the parties. Things are healthy. We'll keep it that way."

In the 2024 Lok Sabha election Karnataka will vote in two phases - April 26 and May 7.

In the 2019 election the BJP swept the state, winning 25 of its 28 seats. The Congress and the JDS won one each, with the final seat going to an independent lawmaker.

NDTV is now available on WhatsApp channels. Click on the link to get all the latest updates from NDTV on your chat.