‘The 40%-Govt Slogan Has Struck a Chord; It Will Be the Undoing of BJP’
Vidya Dinker, an activist based in Mangalore, Coastal Karnataka, says the issue of corruption will prevail upon the Hindutva brand of politics in this Assembly Elections. Her Views;
All elections are important but this election has a special significance – especially for those who cherish progressive, secular and constitutional values of the country. There is no doubt that the BJP has, over the years, consolidated its polarizing politics, especially in Coastal Karnataka, and parts of Dakshin Kannada. But there is a counter-discourse too which has become prevalent in the rest of the state now, especially about its corrupt regime.
The catchphrase ‘40 per cent sarkara’ is on every one’s lips. Besides, the issue of day-to-day survival for ordinary people is an issue which haunts the electoral landscape. That would decisively go against the BJP in these crucial assembly elections.
The Congress has an extremely good chance of coming back to power in the state. Tactically, the party has taken in its fold some disgruntled and high-profile leaders from the BJP which would decisively damage the BJP in many parts of the state. By such pragmatic moves, the Congress feels it would arrive at a secure number as a majority, become a winning party, and, hence, would be effectively able to ward off any poaching operation by a cash-rich BJP, as it did last time, by sabotaging an elected Congress government in Karnataka.
One crucial factor is: which way will the JD-S go? It is routinely perceived that they would back the Congress in the final instance after the results are declared. Will they?
The fact is that Siddaramaiah has had a long stint with the original JS-S, and it is well-known that he has had a troubled and uncomfortable relationship within that party. Siddaramaiah is the tallest and most inspirational leader in Karnataka, and this iconic image comes as a leader from the backward castes. He is, therefore, the natural contender for the post of chief minister once the Congress wins. However, if the Congress does not get a clear majority, what happens? In that case, will the JD-S support his candidature as CM?
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It is well known that DK Shivakumar knows how to pull muscle-politics; has deep pockets; and is a good organizer. The JS-S is likely to back his candidature if there is a face-off between him and Siddaramaiah. That would be a dicey situation, indeed, for the Congress, if it falls short of a clear majority. Now, what is going on in the mind of HD Devegowda, the JD-S supremo, is hard to tell.
I personally believe that DK Shivakumar should not become the chief minister. I also think that large parts of Karnataka will go the Congress way. For instance, in Dakshin Kannada, the BJP had won seven and Congress one seat in the last assembly polls. This time the tally might be 5-3, with one BJP defector winning on a Congress ticket. So the wind will certainly shift, except in Coastal Karnataka where the BJP seems to have captured the hearts and minds of the people with its communal and hate politics.
They have succeeded in not only consolidating hate politics, but have also instilled a subconscious fear of a polarizing and vicious narrative: will your daughter come back home safe… will your cow be taken away by them… will your son be safe if we are not in power, etc. Fear-mongering has been a key to their success. They had earlier succeeded in pumping up the love jihad narrative effectively, and, thereby, captured the voter’s fancy.
Not anymore it seems. The most crucial factor is the countercurrent among the masses in Karnataka, including within the traditional support base of the BJP. This contemporary current expresses deep disgruntlement with the BJP and its government, that it has not stood with the ordinary people in the terrible pandemic and post-pandemic crisis, that ordinary people are struggling to survive, that it is corrupt, and that the 40 per cent kickback is a reality.
This belief has been embedded in each voter’s mind in the state. That would be certainly disadvantage BJP, even while the Lingayat-Vokkaliga-Backward-Muslim etc., caste-conundrum plays out as it has done always during the final phase of the polls.
As told to Amit Sengupta