There is saturation coverage of #KarnatakaElections2018 in newspapers, on news channels and websites, and much of it is ordinary and predictable.
But if there is one publication worth tracking to understand what is happening in the BJP, it is Vijaya Vani, the Kannada newspaper owned by three-time former BJP Lok Sabha member and transport baron, Vijay Sankeshwar.
Ever since B.S. Yeddyurappa‘s son B.Y. Vijyendra was ignominiously denied a ticket to the Varuna constituency at the last minute, the paper’s coverage has revealed the internecine battles inside the BJP better than other media.
A front-page box also featured Sankeshwar (with his picture) as saying that if the BJP high command did not relent and give Vijayendra a seat, he would withdraw from the campaigning.
April 26: Vijaya Vani further reports that the “Varuna disaster” has let the cat among the pigeons among Lingayats, who now suspect if Yeddyurappa will get to be chief minister as promised by BJP if it comes to power.
But it is in the last couple of days that Vijaya Vani has gone ballistic in its coverage, revealing the serious fissures that have developed in the party.
April 27: The second lead on the front page on Friday is an all-English headline in Kannada: “Shah Surprise Shock”.
Over the next several paragraphs, the paper reports that BJP president Amit Shah‘s famed election strategy has come a complete cropper in Karnataka.
BJP aspirants were looking for novelty and transparency in the choice of candidates by the party, reports the paper. They were hoping that the opinion of workers and internal surveys would be the basis for selection.
Instead all they have got is an ad hoc and whimsical list.
“In the first list of 82, incumbent candidates and defectors got in. In the second list of 72, those who were BJP’s opponents in previous elections and those who took in Tipu Jayanti got in.
“Aspirants have been dejected with each list and have lost interest in campaigning. They were told not to lobby for tickets, but the party has made room for many who lobbied.
“Aspirants who were leading in the internal surveys have been ignored. Those who took party in Yeddyurappa’s “Parivartana” rally and roped in crowds, have been brushed aside.
“Only Harish Poonja (Belthangady), Omshakti Chalapathi (Kolar), Shrikant Kulkarni (Jamkhandi), Chandrakant Patil (Gulbarga), Pritham Gowda (Hassan) and Vedavyasa Kamath (Mangalore) meet Shah’s original claims.
“There has been no effort to assuage to hurt feelings of workers. The possibility of all this having an impact on the elections cannot be ruled out.”
April 28: The second lead in Saturday’s Vijaya Vani again highlights the growing distance between Amit Shah and Yeddyurappa after the latter’s son was humiliatingly denied a party ticket from Varuna.
In Saturday’s edition, Vijaya Vani reports that Yeddyurappa did not go to receive Amit Shah on Thursday when the latter arrived for campaigning, even though he was in Bangalore.
“Although some party leaders contend this was because it was too late in the day for him to go the airport, the fact is that Yeddyurappa was ensconced with party leaders till late that evening.
“Even when Yeddyurappa met Shah on Friday morning, the meeting lasted a mere five minutes.”
For the record, the photograph of 75-year-old Yeddyurappa falling at the feet of the 54-year-old Shah in an earlier meeting had been grist for the social media mills.
In a front-page box, Vijaya Vani also mysteriously talks of the possibility of “one more factor” being the cause of the strife between Shah and Yeddyurappa. That factor the paper says has been momentarily set aside in the quest for a victory.
Vijay Sankeshwar is a Lingayat from the Lingayat-dominated north Karnataka region. He also runs a TV channel called Dighvijay News.
It is a fair surmise that he is reflecting the views of his community, if not trying to shape it, after Yeddyurappa’s son’s chances were nixed summarily by the Modi-Shah combine, whose offensive and condescending attitude towards the BJP’s Karnataka functionaries is now open secret.