Karnataka as the Bharatiya Janata Partys Southern Political Laboratory

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2024-68-3-90-101
E. Zeegofer, evsee@hotmail.com
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.

Received 15.08.2023. Revised 12.12.2023. Accepted 09.01.2024.

Abstract. Karnataka has become the first and only state in South India where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has ever won Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) elections and come to power. Moreover, in four general elections from 2004 to 2019, the party won a majority of the total of twenty-eight Karnataka’s parliamentary seats. Thus, the state is known as a stronghold of the saffron party in South India, which has a rather significant impact on the national political landscape and the balance of power in Delhi. The article examines ethnocultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, and political specifics of South India as a whole and covers the key moments and the main causes of the BJP’s rise in Karnataka. It also scrutinizes the party’s methods of social engineering. These include building of electorally successful social coalitions, winning over dominant caste groups and local political leaders as well as political mobilization based on Hindutva, inter alia through disputes over sacred sites important for both Hindus and Muslims, campaigns against religious conversions, “hindutvatisation” of education, etc. Furthermore, the article examines whether and to what extent these methods are effective in Karnataka and may be replicable in other southern states. The article also investigates the causes of the BJP’s defeat by the Indian National Congress in Karnataka Vidhan Sabha election in May 2023. The author concludes that despite this failure the BJP has not completely lost the state as a springboard in South India, from where it plans to spread its influence to the rest of the region, and remains the majority party in the country and the frontrunner in the general election to be held in 2024.

Keywords: Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP, India, Karnataka, South India, Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) elections, regional politics, party system, hindu communalism, saffronization


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For citation:
Zeegofer E. Karnataka as the Bharatiya Janata Partys Southern Political Laboratory. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2024, vol. 68, no. 3, pp. 90-101. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2024-68-3-90-101 EDN: ZQIDMV

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