Karnataka polls to decide which is mightier caste or religion gas x extra strength vs ultra strength


With less than 24 hours left for the D-Day for much-hyped Karnataka Assembly polls, new permutations and combinations figuring in and a heated campaign has ended, the poll this time in Karnataka will also decide among other issues which is mightier the caste or the religion.

Such a perception emerged after the Congress-led Siddaramaiah government played the ‘Lingayat card’ seeking to grant the community a minority religion tag in March this year as part of its poll preparedness to woo the politically sensitive community in the state and retain power.

According to a recent opinion poll by Loknit-CSDS-ABP over 61 per cent Lingayats in the state were in favour of the BJP. The Pre-Poll Survey was conducted in Karnataka by Lokniti, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for ABP News. The survey was conducted from April 27 through May 3, 2018.

BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa belongs to this influential caste and reports indicate majority of Lingayats community men were with him. It perhaps underlines the significance of the caste factor in Karnataka politics vis-a-vis religion.

For many, seeing his or her caste men at the top post of Chief Minister or Prime Minister is more important and satisfying too. A Lingayat as CM keeps all other options far away for such voters. At least on this what comes to surface is there is perhaps no difference in mindset of the people either in north India or in the south.

During last year’s Gujarat Assembly polls, "Gujarat Ka Beta, Desh ka Neta" (Gujarat’s son, country’s leader) sentiment ran strong among a vast section of voters in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s native state as they did not want to weaken their Gujarati Ashmita (Pride).

But ever since Modi started his campaign, the electoral landscape seemed to have changed a lot in the state and to counter the ‘Modi blitzkrieg’ the Congress had to bring its former president and an ailing Sonia Gandhi in poll campaign. The UPA chairperson had kept herself away from the poll campaigns in many assembly polls and even in Gujarat – which her party lost despite putting up a stiff challenge to BJP. In the Karnataka contest, the ABP-CSDS poll survey predicted hung assembly with BJP taking the lead. According to it,BJP may get 89-95 seats, Congress 85-91, and JDS 32-38 seats.

Because the pre- poll survey of the same team conducted in 2013 found Lingayats support to BJP lower by 3 per cent. Thereby, while BJP could increases vote share by 3 per cent more in 2018, it suggests drop in Congress share. Hence the minority tag could possibly affect Congress.

It is also implied that Mr Siddaramaiah’s harsh criticism against former Prime Minister and the face of Vokkaligas H D Deve Gowda family has not gone down well with the Vokkaligas. Mr Deve Gowda-led JD(S) is expected to corner most of Vokkaligas votes in old Mysore areas. JD(S) is expected to retain its number in the state as per the report and is highly popular in old Mysore areas.

In Gadag, he raised Mahadayi, and stated that Sonia Gandhi during 2007 poll campaign in Goa had said that no water will be released to Karnataka from Mahadayi. In Chitradurga, he raised Onake Obavva and Madakari Nayaka, chiding Siddaramiah for neglecting them and opting for Tipu Sultan Jayanti.

In Tumkuru, he raised drinking water problem and how Yethinahole project is still languishing. In Raichur, he brought out the laxity of the government and how the land which produces electricity is not getting power throughout the day. In Bellary, he raised drinking water problems and also said that in their campaign against ‘Reddy brother’ – the Congress leaders had at times even belittled Bellary region as a whole and tried to dub it as a land of thugs and thieves. How much all these virtues of oratory skill canhelp BJP remains to be seen.

"I have now learnt to deal with the Prime Minister," Mr Gandhi told a press conference here on the last day of campaign on Thursday and maintained that Prime Minister Modi often adopts ‘distracting’ strategy and "when he cannot respond, he distracts".

Nevertheless, there is a paradox about Karnataka polls and the outcome of battle for Lok Sabha. In 2008, BJP won Karnataka but suffered reverses in 2009 parliamentary elections virtually decimating L K Advani from the political landscape and in just roll reversal in 2013 while Congress mustered a convincing majority in Karnataka, the grand old party lost the Lok Sabha polls and its tally came down to all time low of 44. UNI JPG/DEVN CNR HVB1240