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Despite Lingayat issue, it is ‘advantage BJP’ in the biggest political slugfest of 2018

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There are several good reasons why the BJP is upbeat in spite of expectations the Lingayat issue might go against the party.

It’s official. One of the biggest political slugfests of 2018 has been announced. The Karnataka assembly election has suddenly assumed great importance.

Karnataka is the only southern state where the BJP was once the ruling party. During its tenure, Yeddyurappa had to quit office as chief minister in the wake of corruption charges later set aside by court.

The issue of minority tag for the Lingayats has gained huge momentum.The community has a large presence in central Karnataka, especially in Davanagere, Chitradurga and Shivamogga. Accounting for approximately 14 per cent of the population, Lingayats are divided, but one of their senior religious leaders, Swami Shivamurthy, has been able to hold the various factions together.

His main argument is that the minority tag will ease the financial burden on the several educational institutions that community leaders run.

The Muslim- and Christian-run institutions enjoy immense benefit under Article 29 of the Constitution, which grants them special benefits not available for the majority (read secular) institutions.

The Siddaramaiah-led Congress state government has fanned the fire by announcing its intensions of granting minority status to the Lingayats. While the modalities will have to be worked out by the new government in consultation with the Centre, it is no doubt a difficult situation for the BJP. The party can take shelter under the model code of conduct and tide over the issue for now.

There are good reasons why the BJP is upbeat in spite of expectations that the Lingayat agitation might go against it.

The BJP’s prospective CM candidate, Yeddyurappa, is a Lingayat and had supported the demand for minority tag in his previous avatar as the leader of the breakaway party, KJP.

The community would not want to let one of their own leaders down and support an OBC (Kurava) candidate as CM once again. Besides, the Lingayats are unlikely to vote as one vote bank.

This community has been a strong supporter of the BJP and even went against the party when their leader Yeddyurappa was asked to vacate the CM’s office. It is, therefore, very unlikely that the community will wholeheartedly support the Congress. Nevertheless, in the April 2017 by-election, the Lingayats did not support the BJP, and the Congress won both seats, Nanjangud and Gundlupet.

The overall trend among the farmers has been to vote against the establishment in the states. The Patel agitation did not affect the BJP in Gujarat, especially in urban constituencies, but the farmers in Saurashtra voted against the BJP. A similar trend appears to be affecting the Congress in Karnataka, which has but one urban centre, Bengaluru, with 80 per cent rural constituencies. Added to this will be the anti-incumbency factor, which may reduce the Congress to a poor third in the state.

While the JD(S)-BSP combine, led by the original ‘accidental PM’ Deve Gowda, is expected to mop up about 20 per cent of the votes, mostly concentrated in the cultural centre of the state, Mysuru, the party, cash-starved and plagued with infighting, is looking for candidates who cannot just finance their own constituency but also support one or two more.

With tickets up for sale, the prophesied ‘agnipareeksha (test by fire)’ for Gowda might come after the election, when horse-trading might begin. In any case, it is very unlikely that the JD(S) will manage to win even half the seats it got last time (40).

All this leaves the arena for a two-way contest between the BJP and the Congress, with the BJP having a clear edge.

There is a huge jump in the number of young voters (2.20 per cent now from 1.16% earlier) and that is likely to benefit the BJP, and also the over 15 lakh new voters who might prefer the BJP to the Congress. The Narendra Modi-Amit Shah team and the BJP’s time-tested cadres will ensure victory.

More importantly, for the BJP, winning Karnataka will be a great psychological factor to prepare the ground for 2019. It is no secret that there are some moves to hold the upcoming assembly elections and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls simultaneously.

A win in Karnataka may bolster the argument for such a move. Defeating the Congress is very important for the BJP to deal a final blow to the image of its president, who has not won a single election of significance after assuming the high office.

Yet it might not be an easy win for the BJP. The combined opposition front Mamata Banerjee is trying to cobble together and the SP-BSP coalition might want to test waters in Karnataka, though they have negligible presence in the south. But election victories have been decided by two to three per cent swings, and more so in a straight contest between the BJP and the Congress.

As of now, it appears to be ‘advantage BJP’.

The author is a security and strategic affairs commentator and former editor of ‘Organiser’.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Karnataka needs a change, for the past five years the incumbent chief minister has mistreated and vilified the Hindu religion and has hellbent on dividing them on caste basis, his ploy of uniting the minorities and dividing the majority Hindus should be dealt by real Hindus by voting him out of power, he is a snake which has for the last few months stopped spitting venom against the Hindus just for the election purpose , wait you gullible Hindus if he wins the election, worst times are ahead of you, please think twice before voting this cunning fox. I am a christian , feel sorry for the plight of Hindus in Karnataka.

  2. Young Kanndigas can send a message to the whole country.

    We choose a Good Quality of Life [Cleanliness, Good Infra and Strong Economy] versus ………………continuation of 70 years of backwardness, and won’t be fooled by Congress’s age old strategy of Caste based division to garner votes.

    • Yeah sure – a vote for a good quality of life indeed. Like the rest of the country has seen. More riots, fake encounters and utter mismanagement of the economy. Nobody except the country’s super rich have a better quality of life in the last four years.

      • yes we are bored of the last four years, we used to enjoy the debates on National Television about the weekly scams of Congress party from 2004 to 2014.

  3. Well, expect a spate of religion based riots in Karnataka in a few days. This is a classic model, which has worked from the BJP in a number of states. And also get ready for Ram scarfs to Ram Chaddis for the next two months.
    By 2019 expect the whole country to burn in Hindu-Muslim riots. Its already started in West Bengal and Bihar.

  4. “Despite Lingayat issue, it is ‘advantage BJP’ in the biggest political slugfest of 2018”
    SESHADRI CHARI .
    Yes he knows.Yogi Adityanath BJP’s star campaigner and UP chief minister conducted purifying ceremony of CM’s residence with Ganga water and cow milk since the earlier occupants were a Yadav and Jatav. people are,of course the Dalits and OBCs, becoming more and more aware of it, and there fore BJP’s chances are becoming more and more advantageous in Karnataka.

    • Mr church ke dalle –
      1) A sanyasi is beyond caste. When a person becomes sanyasi he leaves his all his identities with he was born with and does his last rites.
      2) he did suddhi not because Akhilesh was yadav but he was because he was a bastard son of a mulla who prided in killing hindus.
      3) And bastard christians like you should stay away from our internal dynamics and ask your church fathers about caasteism. How many church fathers are from lower caste leve SC? Should I give you the link where fucking father of yours is speaking against dalits and opposing inter caste marriages? When will syrians give latins the equal status in kerala?

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