A whisper campaign by the Dalits in Karnataka which has Siddaramaiah worried
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a recent rally brought about the issue of how senior Congress leader, Mallikarjuna Kharge was denied the post of Karnataka chief minister. During a roadshow near Mysore, when Kharge stopped over, he was flocked by people who shouted that they did not want Siddaramaiah, but him to become the chief minister of Karnataka.
During the stopover, Kharge also reminded how an alleged sabotage had proven costly for G Parameshwar in 2013 which led him to losing the election as a result of which he was denied the CM's chair. Kharge chose not to react, the angry Dalits said, ' we know whom to vote for in the elections.
These are not one off incidents in Karnataka and there are a good number of Dalits who feel that Siddaramaiah should not be the chief minister. They are reportedly upset that it was due to him that two Dalit leaders, Kharge and Parameshwar were denied the post of CM.
While in some places the campaign against Siddaramaiah is out in the open, in other quarters there is a whisper campaign to this effect. There is an allegation against Siddaramaiah that he had played a hand in ensuring Parameshwar's defeat in Koratagere back in 2013. This several Dalits have not taken kindly and they firmly believe that had Parameshwar won the election, he would have become CM.
If this campaign by a section of Dalits does play out on May 12, then the calculations for Siddaramaiah could go wrong. He has relied heavily on AHINDA ( Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) to rope in the votes.
The other complaint by the Dalits is that the sops under AHINDA have only benefited the minorities and Kurubas, the community Siddaramaiah belongs to.
The Dalits are the largest community in Karnataka and their votes are crucial to the prospects of any party. Siddaramaiah would also be aware of the fact that the Dalits who are 1.50 crore in number are a divided lot. There are two main factions apart from other sub-castes. The main factions comprise the Madigas and Holeyas who are the right and left wing factions respectively.
The Madigas accuse Siddaramaiah of favouring the Holeyas. They say that the welfare schemes doled out by Siddaramaiah have benefited the Holeyas. Another bone they have to pick is the non-implementation of the Justice A J Sadashiva Commission report. The report had recommended internal reservation for the Madigas within the SC quota. Despite protests, agitations and several pleas, Siddaramaiah did not act upon it and silently referred it to a Cabinet sub-committee ahead of the polls.
The Madigas have been up in arms that Kharge was not chosen as the CM candidate. Although these protests began in areas such as Gurmitkal where Kharge is a strong leader, over a period of time it spread into other parts of the state. The big protest in Mysore as referred to earlier in the article is proof of the same.
During the protest, Kharge did not react to the crowd. He said that Dr. B R Ambedkar had given the freedom to decide on our own. He tried to calm down the angry mob by telling that Siddaramaiah was chosen by the high command.
|Karnataka Assembly Election dates|
|Date of notification||April 17|
|Last date to file nominations||April 24|
|Last date to withdraw nominations||April 27|
|Date of polling||May 12|
|Date of counting||May 15|