Hassan: It won four assembly seats here in 1999, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to capitalise on these gains and consolidate its position in Hassan. Until its win in Arkalgudu, Sakleshpur, Belur and Hassan assembly segments, the BJP hadn’t made much headway in this stronghold of the Janata Dal (S), having won only once before from Sakleshpur in 1994 when its senior leader, B B Shivappa made it to the assembly on its ticket.
Claiming that desertion by its leaders like A Manju, who won from Arkalgudu on a BJP ticket and B B Shivappa, Hanume Gowda and Puttaranganath, who followed him into the Congress, damaged the prospects of the party in Hassan in the years later, a senior BJP leader says the distrust which this generated in its ranks affected its performances in both the assembly and parliamentary polls that followed.
Although Mr Shivappa, Mr Hanume Gowda and Mr Puttaranganath returned to the BJP later, it did not help matters greatly. In the years that followed the BJP was able to score a win only in Arasikere in 2004 and its nominee came close to winning in Belur against the Congress in 2008.
The formation of the breakaway Karnataka Janata Party in 2013 dealt it another blow in Hassan. Notes a BJP leader, “The party’s candidates did put up a good show in a couple of constituencies where they lost by narrow margins.” But overall the picture remained dismal for the party.
A former MLA of the BJP, however, claims all is not lost and the party can regain its lost ground in Hassan as its loyal workers have not deserted it despite its MLAs jumping ship. “Our base is strong in rural areas, but the state and national leadership need to do more to instill confidence among the workers and strengthen the party in these parts,” he suggests.
A district unit leader claims the BJP still has support in Sakleshpur, Kadur, Hassan, Belur and parts of Arkalgudu.“The Hindutva wave is strong enough in Sakleshpur and Belur for the party to build on,” he believes.