Riding on the "popularity" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP is confident of winning the May 12 Karnataka Assembly election, claimed Union Human Resource Development Minister and party's state in-charge Prakash Javadekar.
"The BJP will win the assembly elections with majority because the people have confidence in the development model and leadership of Modi. They will vote for us to ensure good governance in the state," asserted Javadekar in an interview here.
Betting on anti-incumbency against the ruling Congress, the opposition BJP is also banking on "trust" the people have in its chief ministerial nominee B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was its maiden Chief Minister in south India a decade ago when the party came to power in the state for the first time and ruled for 5 years.
Ironically, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost in the 2013 Assembly to the Congress after Yeddyurappa left it in 2012 and formed the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) in 2013 to win six seats and reducing it to 40 seats across the state.
"People's love and respect for Yeddyurappa, positive voting and anti-incumbency will enable our party to secure majority to form the next government," said Javadekar.
In the 225-member state legislative assembly, including one nominated member, a party requires 113 legislators to form a government with a simple majority.
Polling, however, will be held in 223 constituencies across the state instead of 224 seats due to countermanding of the election in Bengaluru's Jayanagar segment following the death of BJP contestant B.N. Vijaya Kumar on May 4.
"The people want clean governance more than anything when it comes to choosing a party that will form the next government in the state," he reiterated.
Claiming that the people have lost faith in the "corruption-ridden Congress", Javadekar alleged there was no development in the state during its five-year rule, when about 3,500 farmers reportedly committed suicides, adding that "political murders occurred, law and order broke down and society was divided."
A survey by the election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), however, found the factors for the electorate while casting their vote were the candidate, followed by his/her party and its chief ministerial candidate.
"As the Congress lost elections in many states over the last four years, it is evident that the people everywhere were voting it out and opting for the BJP, which is only for the country's development," pointed out Javadekar.
The Congress had lost assembly elections in 12 states, including Maharashtra, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland since 2014.
The trend shows the Congress is bound to lose Karnataka as well and will be in power only in Punjab and Puducherry in the country," Javadekar said.
Admitting that due to "unforeseen incidents", Yeddyurappa resigned in July 2011 as chief minister after the state's anti-graft ombudsman (Lokayukta) named him in a multi-crore mining scam that rocked the state during the BJP tenure, (2008-13), Javadekar said the party was certain that Yeddyurappa would not only win, but also remain in power for the next five years.
On announcing scam-hit Yeddyurappa as the Chief Minister's face even before the state assembly election was declared on March 27, Javadekar said the party had a state-specific strategy to name its chief minister candidates in some states.
"There was no difference of opinion in the party on choosing Yeddyurappa as the chief ministerial face after the courts had cleared him of the charges. Hence, we don't see naming him as our chief minister affecting the voter's decision in any way," affirmed Javadekar.
Ruling out a hung verdict after the vote counting on May 15, the 67-year-old minister said the BJP would secure majority to form government on its own than seek support of other parties like the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
"Every party has a right to fight the election, so does JD-S. But there is no question of the BJP not getting a majority," added Javadekar, playing down a hung Assembly projection by opinion pollsters and surveys by media outlets and non-government organisations (NGOs).
It may be noted that Congress formed the first coalition government in the state with JD-S in May 2004 after a hung verdict. JD-S withdrew its support 20 months later, resulting in the fall of the N. Dharam Singh-led Congress government in February 2006.
Tying with the BJP soon, its leader H.D. Kumaraswamy formed the state's second coalition government and was its chief minister for 20 months till October 2007. When the JD-S withdrew support to the BJP-led government in November 2007, President's rule was imposed for six months, leading to Assembly elections in 2008.
On the impact of the Congress government granting minority status to a section of Lingayats for education and job benefits, Javadekar said the move had recoiled on the ruling party, as they (Lingayats) understood that it was a political game to deny Yeddyyurapa the chief minister's post again.
(Bhavana Akella can be contacted atAbhavana.firstname.lastname@example.org)