The Dalit protests which rocked the country on Monday will play out big in the Karnataka assembly elections. The elections will be held on May 12 and counting would take place on May 15.
The protests were against the dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. Incidentally, it was Supreme Court which tweaked the mandatory arrest clause in the act, following which the Centre rushed to the court seeking a review.
There was some kind of opposition unity during the protests that were held on Monday. The Congress, RJD, BSP, SP were among the parties which took part in the protest and termed the BJP of being anti-Dalit.
This is a card that the opposition would continue to play in 2019 as well. However, the immediate effect of the Dalit card would be found during the Karnataka assembly elections.
Dalits form a large chunk of the electorate in Karnataka. They form an estimated 23 per cent of the electorate and any party would eye these votes as they are clearly a deciding factor.
Siddaramaiah with his AHINDA brand of politics is clearly targeting the Dalit votes. He is aware that bagging the Dalit votes would be crucial for his party and would help him retain power.
The Congress has already upped the ante against the BJP in Karnataka and is aiming to portray the party as anti-Dalit. There have been frequent attacks on BJP, MP Ananth Kumar Hegde who had spoken about re-writing the Constitution. This issue tends to touch a nerve with the Dalit population as they feel that the Constitution written by B R Ambedkar is under question.
The Congress is making use of this and does not fail to narrate this at every political rally. The BJP on its part has done everything to counter the narrative that is being set by the opposition. However, the party has faced setbacks with the narrative being changed with incidents such as Rohit Vemula and the Una flogging.
The Congress would now use the Dalit protests as one of its major poll planks in the Karnataka election. In fact this would be the first big test case whether this card would work for the Congress or against the BJP ahead of the big fight in 2019.
|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|