Bengaluru: Just a day after veteran Congress leader and former Karnataka chief minister S.M.Krishna announced his decision to leave the party, talks of the 84-year old joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is already doing the rounds, further consolidating the party’s reputation as a destination for dissidents from the grand old party.
Though Krishna has remained non-committal about his future course of action, he has kept all his options open.
Senior BJP leaders in the state have welcomed Krishna to its party fold and have remarked that the octogenarian’s experience would help the saffron party in the state, especially ahead of the 2018 assembly elections.
Harish Ramaswamy, political analyst and professor of political science at Karnataka University in Dharwad, agreed that the BJP is becoming a natural choice for Congress deserters.
He said that Krishna’s exit will impact the party as he was the last remaining survivors of “gentlemen politicians"—well-educated, English speaking and with an appeal to the youths— of the Congress in the state.
Ramaswamy said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s communicative ability transcends generations, young and old, attracting Congress deserters. He said that the Janata Dal (Secular), a regional party, does not appeal to many since it is considered a family-run outfit.
In December, another veteran and backward class leader Srinivas Prasad left the Congress to join the BJP after he was dropped from the cabinet in the June reshuffle and replaced by first-time legislators. Jayaprakash Hegde, a senior Congress leader, joined the BJP in November last year.
Apart from big leaders, many smaller district level party workers have migrated to the BJP in recent times, according to analysts.
The BJP, which had stormed to power in 2008 with 110 seats and reduced to 40 seats in the 2013 elections, has been banking on people like Prasad to cover new ground in the Mysore region, where it has little or no representation.
The BJP has been trying to mobilize backward classes votes—traditional Congress supporters—with Prasad’s inducation while the Congress continues to be busy firefighting rebellion within its ranks.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah has been under intense pressure in its current term over non-performance of the party in the state and on the national stage and infighting within the Karnataka unit of the party. “Siddaramaiah’s arrogance has gone beyond limits. He has been a curse to the party and there will be a future for this party only when he leaves," Janardhan Poojary, senior Congress leader and former Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president told reporters in Mangalore on Monday.
Bengaluru-based political analyst Narendar Pani said that joining a party like the BJP over a regional party or going independent has its own disadvantages as well. “The ability to absorb someone into their own party becomes much less," he said while adding that a big party will have more of its own leaders leaving little space for outsiders.
“Everyone feels that BJP will win the next elections (in the state) and we welcome anyone who wants to join and strengthen the party," G. Madhusudhan of the BJP told Mint on Monday.
He, however, clarified that the party will have reservations against people who demand tickets to join the party as it has its own workers who come before new entrants.
KPCC president, Dr.G. Parameshwara, working president and at least three senior ministers could not be reached for comment