Saturday, December 15, 2012

Political turbulence or cleaning up?

Karnataka in contrast to Kerala and TN, have not been a host to radical social movements. But, the people of Karnataka have risen up time and again; when the question of existence of Kannada and survival of Kannadiga are questioned. One instance is the Gokak Chaluvali where Dr. Rajkumar and others made a mass uprising to force the Govt. to go back-foot w.r.t status accorded to Kannada language in academics.

The Gundu rao government’s policy to favor the linguistic minority was met with fierce opposition and such incidents have happened after his regime too. The opposition to introduction of Urdu news cutting into Kannada news air time is still lingering in memory even though it happened a good 10 years ago.

If we take a look at the recent elections in Karnataka, there are some interesting insights. 

List of parties which stood election in Karnataka: 32 excluding independents (1)

65% voting was witnessed in Karnataka state elections. (2)

Even though Congress secured more votes than BJP, the number of seats in BJP kitty is more. JD(S) secured close to 60% of votes as gained by BJP, but the total seats won by this party were 1/4th of BJP’s score.

Except BJP, JD(S), Congress, Independents, BSP ; no party has secured even 1% in terms of overall vote percentage of the total votes polled. Parties trying to secure a national foothold or screwed ideology are always trying to gain a foothold. But, there is no party which started out as a regional party to protect the interests of the state, language and its culture.

In the Indian context, the media has always portrayed the regionalism as negative sense. Its also a positive emotion since it encourages people to develop a sense of brotherhood, and commonness based on basis of language, religion or historical background.

Interference from Center has led to regional feelings, where the states are demanding for greater autonomy. Also, the states are reacting against the efforts of the national government which is imposing a particular ideology (right wing, left wing etc), language (Hindi) or a cultural pattern on all people and groups.

Even the names of previous politicians who were termed as unsuccessful in creating a regional party are not true. Those parties were started since the state leader was unhappy with the high command interference. But, these parties failed to build upon the regional feelings and tried to project them as one man / party which are a replacement to national one.

 Devaraj URS - Devaraj Urs was unhappy with Indira Gandhi. Took lot of legislators from multiple states formed INC -URS and later become INC (Socialist)
Bangarappa - His personal support with the electorate, which seemed not to be reliant upon the political party to which he belonged, although his popularity declined over time

If these parties/leaders have tried to create a sense of regionalism, then things would have been different for Karnataka.

The revolt of Devaraj Urs and the subsequent attempts to reduce his persona by his opposing group heralded the era of high command culture in Karnataka politics. For a brief time, the Ramakrishna Hegde provided a firm hand in administration which was followed by turbulence in state politics. The “high command” intervened at the drop of hat and resulted in changing chief ministers of the state frequently.

Even in the recent MP elections, “the process of fragmentation of the party system and the electorate is still progressing, Indian voters having opted for regional and local players more than they ever did before. The first real loser of the elections is the BJP. In India, the act of voting has always been partially over-determined by the ethnic identity of the citizen, be it based on religion, caste or language.

Ethnic voting is especially obvious at the state level given the regional dimension of castes - most of them (especially the dominant castes) do not expand beyond a linguistic area, often coterminous with one state. In Karnataka, 73% of the Lingayats voted for the BJP (Shastri, Suri et al., 2009: 117). “

Source - (3)
We can see that except for a marginal dip in 1999, the regional parties are increasing in strength at the cost of BJP and multi-state parties in the MP elections.

Recently, Karnataka had the first BJP party in power and they have seen that linguistic minorities are given prominence at the cost of aspirations of the majority. The mistakes made by BJP is never ending and Yedi was part of the few too

  •  BJP govt. still playing around with the closure of Kannada medium schools (6)

  • Installed Tamil poet statue in heart of Bengaluru to woo minority votes in BBMP elections (7)

  • Gave away funds to Hindu religious institutes at the command and wishes of RSS

  • Put the Central leadership interests over the state in Kaveri issue

  • Did not handle Belagavi issue with iron fist till the pressure was mounted

  • Openly supported the Reddy brothers and encouraged mining lobby

  • Systematic saffornization of state machinery, education and civil society (5)

  • Protecting and prompting communal organizations to inflict or entice communal tensions (4)

Last but not the least, it was caught in embarrassing position when its party members were caught on camera watching porn content during assembly hours.

Looking at the hand in glove techniques of Congress and BJP in various issues affecting the state, the people of the state have realized or on the path to realization that regional parties are the need of the hour.

Therefore, we have 3 regional outfits (JD(S), BRS-Congress,KJP) claiming stake in the coming elections. Whether the time is right or not, will be decided by the electorate of the state. The forward march of Hindutva has halted, its time for Kannadatana to take center stage. Make way for it! 

Sources :

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