Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally hit the battlefield in Karnataka, and with his first rally itself, he has effectively taken charge of the narrative. Karnataka elections hold the keys to southern India, and any ambitions the BJP may garner of entering the southern fold will bank on the results of the Karnataka elections. Currently, it seems like Karnataka has become a larger political battle. The Congress have made a massive blunder of making the political fight one between Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, rather than turning their attention to Yeddyurappa. Unsurprsingly, Modi has taken this opportunity to further raise the stakes and involve Congress President Rahul Gandhi in the latest political battle.
On one side, he has positioned himself as a hardworking, honest man who just took India out from the darkness by electrifying every village. On the other you have Rahul Gandhi, an entitled dynast who cannot even give a speech for 15 minutes without notes. He has made it a battle of naamdaar (dynast) versus kaamdaar (worker). Power Minister Piyush Goyal was quick to pick up on the narrative:
Till 26th May 2014, before I became a Minister, I was a professional Chartered Accountant & investment banker. Unlike you, Mr @RahulGandhi, I have not learnt well the art of living without working. I am also a kaamdaar (worker) and not a naamdaar (dynast)
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) May 1, 2018
Recently, Karnataka IT Minister accused the BJP of being more ‘khandani’ than the Congress. The first clear blunder in this is the fact that his statement implies that the Congress is already ‘khandani’. The second blunder is the lack of facts to back up his preposterous claim.
Yeddyurappa’s son has been denied a ticket to contest elections, doesn’t sound a lot like dynastic politics now does it?
In contrast, the Congress has given tickets to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his doctor son Yatheendra and to a host of senior leaders and their family members, including Home minister Ramalinga Reddy (BTM Layout) and his daughter Soumya Reddy (Jayanagara), Law Minister T.B. Jayachandra (Sira, Tumkur) and his son Santosh (Chikkanayakanahalli), veteran Congress leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa (Dharwad South) and his son S.S. Mallikarjun (Dharwad North) and Housing minister M. Krishnappa (Vijayanagar) and his son Priya Krishna (Govindarajanagar).
Rahul Gandhi had challenged Modi saying he could not sit in the Parliament if he gave a 15-minute speech. Daring Rahul to give an impromptu 15-minute speech in Karnataka, Modi said, “Rahul may choose any language of his choice, including his mother tongue, and list down the achievements of the Congress government in Karnataka. He must attempt to mention the name of Sir M. Visvesvaraya at least five times, to prove to the people of Karnataka that he is capable,” mocked Modi, referring to Rahul’s faux pas in pronouncing the stalwart’s name during a rally.
Given the fact that the last four years have seen a massive anti-Gandhi family sentiment brew across the nation, including in areas that were previously considered to be Congress strongholds, it is safe to assume that the Naamdaar vs Kaamdaar narrative is not going to work well for the Congress’ Karnataka campaign, something they have only themselves to blame for. Bringing Narendra Modi into the equation is only their latest blunder though, as they have made several statements in the recent weeks that may see their dwindling popularity further dissipate. Furthermore, the Naamdaar vs Kaamdaar narrative hits at an inconvenient truth for the Congress, something they are still unable to shake off, even in Karnataka.