Yogi Karnataka visit: India is an electoral democracy. The quest for power and electoral victory has been the topmost priority of the political parties in India. While some parties believe that all that is required is identifying the community that can be turned into a potential vote bank, turn them loyal, and the chair will remain with them. Very few, even less than we can count on our fingers, have the potential and guts to go out and fight on real issues, other than appeasement, like the Bhartiya Janata Party did in 2014.
When the chief minister of Gujarat arrived at the national stage, he brought along and presented his ‘Gujarat Model’ as the manifesto for the elections. India then broke the shackles of appeasement politics and voted with an open heart for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But, was the developmental model the only factor? The answer is No. The Bhartiya Janata Party got an edge due to social engineering. And this added factor resulted in a ruthless drubbing of the existing political forces.
Yogi and the politics of Karnataka
The 2018 assembly elections did throw up an inconclusive verdict. The BJP had emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats; it was short of a majority by 9 seats in the 224 member Karnataka assembly. The Congress won 78 seats and Janata Dal (Secular) won 37 seats.
Once again something expected took place. Two erstwhile rivals, Congress and JD(S) decide to form a rainbow coalition, just for the sake of keeping the saffron party out of power.
However, within 15 months, the Congress-JD(S) government tumbled. It was bound to happen owing to factors like unnatural alliance and internal opposition.
BJP’s BS Yediyuraopa then took oath as the CM of the southern state. The baton was later passed on to Basavaraj Bommai, under whose chief ministership, BJP is all set to fight the upcoming assembly elections, due next year.
Also read: After Karnataka council, BJP is all set to retain majority in the legislative assembly
The Lingayats and their unequivocal support to the BJP
Ground reports suggest that BJP has matured enough under CM Bommai to ensure a victory, even without its mighty former chief minister Yediyurappa. While the traditional support belts of BJP are coastal Karnataka, Mumbai-Karnataka, Kalyana-Karnataka and Central Karnataka. The BJP has also covered the areas like Bengaluru Rural, Ramanagara, Mandya, Hassan among others, which had received the saffron party coldly during past elections.
Apart from the study of constituencies, there is another factor. It is the political support of dominant communities in the state. The politics in the state has been characterised by a see-saw struggle between two dominant communities- Lingayat and the Vokkaligas for a long time.
The Lingayat community, that forms around 16-17% of the state’s population, has always been a loyal voterbase for the BJP. It was the former CM Yediyurappa, who played a decisive role in bringing the community into BJP’s fold.
Also read: Yediyurappa’s Savarkar Rath Yatra in Karnataka rings death knell for INC – JDS
The Vokkaligas and why they matter in Karnataka Politics
The political spectrum of Karnataka has witnessed a long lasting tussle between the Lingayats and Vokkaligas (second majority). Power has always alternated between a Lingayat CM and a Vokkaliga CM.
While, at first, the Janata Party and then the BJP were busy bringing Lingayat leaders into their fold. HD Deve Gowda, the former prime minister and chief of Janata Dal (Secular) got the trump card to establish his strong hold. He played the Vokkaliga card. It was with the support of Vokkaligas that the Janata Dal (Secular) climbed onto the ladder of success and have held the chair multiple times.
The politics of Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy
Although Deve Gowda had put his bet on the Vokkaliga community, he has constantly attempted to expand his base among Muslimas and the Kuruba Community (the support base that Siddaramaiah brought along with him).
While the northern Karnataka comprising Lingayat community trusts the BJP, the southern Karnataka, dominated by the Vokkaliga community is considered a stronghold of the JD(S). The party has its base in the ‘Old Mysuru belt’ that comprises 10 out of 30 districts of the state.
However, the JD(S)’s support base among the Vokkaliga community has been eroding fast after being stagnant for too long. In 2004, JD(S) only won 58 out of total 224 assembly seats and its vote share stood at 21.10 %. In the 2018 elections, the vote share remained at 20.65% and the party won 37 seats. The vote share has been constant and the party has failed to expand beyond countable districts of the Vokkaliga belt.
In 2019, JD(S) even lost in its fortresses. Deve Gowda lost his Tumkur seat, while his grandson Nikhil Gowda lost from Mandya. It seems that the JD(S)’ chief interest lies in protecting the family and this attitude has left Vokkaliga votes up for grabs. And the BJP seems to be making no mistake this time.
BJP plays its trump card in Karnataka
When Yogi Adityanath was appointed as the CM of Uttar Pradesh, the Kadri Math in Mangalore celebrated the appointment. This was an acknowledgement of a deep connection between the Nath Sampradaya headed by CM Yogi Adityanath.
As per recent reports, CM Yogi Adityanth is likely to visit Mandya district of Karnataka to take part in Kumbh Mela, which is to be organised on October 16. The Kumbh is being organised at the confluence of rivers Hemavathi and Lakshmanatitha with Kaveri River. It will be held over a period of three days. The community spearheading the religious event is the Vokkaliga community’s Adichunchanagiri Math, which belongs to the Nath sect.
The visit of CM Yogi appears to have been organised by the BJP in the context of the forthcoming elections. BJP appears to be contemplating an outreach to the Vokkaliga community through the leader of the Nath Sect. The Gorakhnath Math is led by CM Yogi Adityanath. Yogi Adityanath, who hails from the Nath Sampradaya, which has a sizable following in the southern state of Karnataka, will get a respectable number of votes from the Vokkaliga group during the state’s election.
This election will spell doom for JD(S)
CM Yogi Adityanath visiting Mandya is a direct of Karnataka signal that the BJP plans to demolish the once impregnable fortress of the JD(S).
The Bhartiya Janata Party has been attempting to gain ground in southern Karnataka’s Vokkaliga area, and destroying the Deve Gowda family’s Mandya fort will be the first move in that direction.
BJP had previously talked about holding its convention in Mandya district. The party had also backed Sumalatha Amarnath in the Lok Sabha elections to defeat Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil. Hassan and Madya are the strongest holds of the Janata Dal (Secular) and with the Adityanath trump card, BJP is all set to decimate the JD(S).
Karnataka: BJP’s gateway to the south
Karnataka’s politics is a bit different as people there barely vote for the party. They vote for the leaders and BJP is all strong as it sounds the poll bugle.
The saffron party is not only set to mark its return in the southern state, but will also return with greater mandate. But it is Karnataka that will open the gate of the south for the BJP. The south is still left for the BJP to dominate.
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