New Delhi: With less than six weeks to go before Karnataka goes to the polls, and the BJP's internal surveys clearly indicating that the Congress party in the state has the edge in over a 100 constituencies in the 224 seat Assembly, the BJP's spin doctors are strongly leaning towards an aggressive campaign that steps up the Hindutva quotient in the communally sensitive coastal districts while simultaneously pushing 'Brand Modi.'
Ground reports reaching the national headquarters here indicate that the party's move to project the "tainted" B.S. Yeddyurappa as their chief ministerial candidate has "not gone down well" with the electorate, and rather than having the former chief minister as the face of the BJP campaign, the party will organise more rallies by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
With the Congress playing its own Hindutva card which has seen the party chief, Mr Rahul Gandhi, continuing with his temple run on his visit to the state on Saturday, offering prayers at the iconic Chamundi Hills shrine in Mysuru, following on from Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's move to break the BJP's hold over its Lingayat community votebank, the BJP is rushing party president Amit Shah to reach out to the religious leaders who head the Lingayat 'mathas' or religious institutions, and influence the vote.
Ahead of the state assembly elections, CM Siddarmaiah had last Monday accepted the recommendations of the Nagamohan Das committee to award separate religion status for the Lingayats community. Together with the survey that shows the Congress is "marginally ahead," in roughly half the seats, the move has rattled the BJP.
In Karnataka, Lingayats are estimated to be around 17 percent of the population, and Vokkaligas about 14 per cent. The upper caste communities traditionally vote for the BJP and the Janata Dal (S) respectively. Siddaramaiah's own Kuruba community which comprises nine percent of the state's population is part of the Congress' vote bank as are the Muslims, who constitute 11 percent of the state's population alongside Dalits and OBCs.
The BJP, which is apparently aware that Karnataka could be its only hope in the South, following its lack of presence in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, has decided to go all out to win Karnataka, and plans to unleash the Modi-Shah juggernaut in the state closer to the poll announcement dates.
The Hindutva face of the BJP in the coastal districts and MP, Mr Ananth Kumar Hegde, is already mobilising the masses in his Uttara Kannada constituency, part of the communally sensitive coastal belt of Karnataka. "We need to push the Hindutva factor to cut through the caste equation," a senior BJP functionary said.