The date of Assembly elections of Karnataka has been announced. Polling will be held in a single phase on May 10 and the mandate will be made public on May 13.
The first litmus test is for the BJP as it is in power. Winning this election is essential for the party’s expansion and electoral acceptance in South India.
The direct contest is with the Congress, which would like to prove its relevance by winning this election and would like to strengthen its claim and mental preparation for 2024 by demolishing a stronghold of the BJP.
Karnataka is the big state of 2023, where it has to get mandate for 224 assembly seats and prepare the ground for 28 Lok Sabha seats.
The first attempt of BJP and Congress would be to get a clear mandate, but it is not that easy as JD-S is also in the fray.
Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda is almost 90 years old . People’s sensibility are also attached to them.
By the way, since 1985, there has been no return of the ruling party in Karnataka. After the failure in Himachal, the BJP is determined to ‘change the custom’ in Karnataka as well.
Since there is no wave-like situation against the current Bommai government, caste reservation is an issue in the BJP’s strategy through which polarization can be created.
The current BJP government has increased the reservation for Dalits from 15% to 17% and the quota for Scheduled Tribes from 5% to 7%.
Last Friday, the quota for Muslims was reduced by 4 percent. Through which polarization conditions can be created.
This quota is divided among the powerful and economically prosperous ethnic groups of Karnataka—the Lingayats and the Vokkalingas.
These groups already have fixed quota under OBC reservation. BJP Parliamentary Board member and former chief minister Yediyurappa is a stalwart, acknowledged leader of the Lingayats.
Certainly, these decisions of the government will disturb the caste balance of Karnataka, hence dissatisfaction and protests have also started.
Stones have even been pelted at the Chief Minister’s residence. However, Muslims will continue to get quota under economic reservation in EWS category.
In Karnataka, Lingayats constitute 17 per cent and Vokkalingas constitute 15 per cent. OBCs are around 35 per cent.
The BJP’s strategy is to garner maximum votes from these caste groups. Through them, she is working on the maths of winning more or less 125 seats.
However, its election target is to win more than 150 seats. corruption, development, religious conversion, polarization, inflation, nationalism, democracy, Unemployment etc. will also be relevant election issues, but caste reservation is the most sensitive issue, because it is related to the interests of the common man and multidimensional future.
When the BJP formed its government in 2019 by breaking the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, by changing the MLAs, it kept the issue of caste reservation boiling along with communalism.
It also kept polarization alive through hijab, religious conversion and Tipu Sultan’s legacy.
Thus, the BJP wanted to keep the Hindu vote bank united and divide the votes of various caste groups.
At least it was successful in that. In the 1970s, Congress leader Devaraj Urs succeeded in mobilizing OBCs, Dalits, tribes and minorities, thereby neutralizing the political dominance of Lingayats and Vokkalingas. Ars’ formula got beaten up in the 1980s, after the rise of the Janata Party. After that Lingayats have been basically supporting BJP and Vokkalingas have been supporting JD-S.
After Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014, a large section of Vokkalingas have also come to the side of BJP. Dalits have also polarized towards the BJP.
The Congress has only the support of the votes of some Dalits and most of the minorities. BJP is now through caste reservation, pitting castes against each other, Ars wants to introduce a ‘saffron version’ of its formula.
Elections will decide to what extent the politics of BJP and other parties gives benefits.
But no doubt that the party who will win this election will have a psychological edge for the next year’s Lok Sabha elections. Tough competition can be seen.