The Right-wing fringe group contested 40 seats under the Shiv Sena’s banner but managed to cross 500 votes in just about 10 constituencies.
New Delhi: The extreme Right-wing fringe group Sri Ram Sene made its political debut in the Karnataka assembly elections this time, but has received a massive thumbs-down from the voters.
The Pramod Muthalik-led group, infamous for its violent acts of moral policing, contested 40 seats under the banner of the BJP’s warring Maharashtra ally, Shiv Sena. But it didn’t even manage to touch 1,000 votes in any of the seats it contested – a seemingly clear rejection of its hardline politics by the people of Karnataka. In fact, it managed more than 500 votes in just about 10 constituencies.
The best-performing candidate belonging to the Shiv Sena/Sri Ram Sene was Amarannavar Pradeep Shankaragouda in Hungund constituency of Bagalkot district in northern Karnataka, but he too received just 922 votes, finishing fifth.
In constituencies like Hebbal, Hassan and Hubli-Dharwad Central, the Shiv Sena/Sri Ram Sene got as few as 52, 82 and 81 votes respectively, whereas in some others like Ron, Ballari City, Bommanahalli and Chamarajpet, it got a mere 170, 158, 150 and 153 votes.
Failed effort to damage BJP
Muthalik and his Sene are most notoriously remembered for the attack on a pub in Mangalore in 2009, which shot them to international infamy. Muthalik was inducted into the Karnataka BJP in March 2014, but was expelled only a few hours later at the insistence of the party’s central leadership.
His decision to throw in his lot with the Shiv Sena and contest these polls (mostly in the Mumbai-Karnataka region) seemed to have a clear intent – to damage the BJP’s chances by riding on the same Hindu majoritarian sentiment.
However, the performance shows the Muthalik-led Shiv Sena didn’t manage to dent the BJP’s fortunes in any way. On nearly three-fourths of the seats where the Sena fought, the BJP won.
Communal polarisation a reality
However, while Muthalik and his Sena/Sene might have failed, communal polarisation did rear its ugly head elsewhere in these polls.
Bhatkal, a minority-dominated constituency, witnessed Hindu consolidation which ensured the Congress candidate there lost to the BJP. With the Majlis-e-Islah-o-Tanzeem, an umbrella organisation with a membership of 20 Muslims jamaats (committees), deciding to support Congress candidate Mankala Subba Vaidya, the BJP and the RSS got their opportunity to ensure polarisation.
Similarly, two minority candidates in Mangaluru – B.A. Mohiuddin Bava of the Congress in Mangalore City North and J.R. Lobo of the Congress in Mangalore City South – who were at the centre of an organised propaganda by the VHP and the Sangh Parivar, lost to the BJP candidates.