Looks like Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who rose to prominence after Gujarat Assembly elections, has made up his mind to take on the BJP and the RSS. Mevani has said that he would urge the Dalits in Karnataka to not vote for the BJP and called for an alliance of parties to keep 'chaddidharis' (veiled reference to the RSS) out of power.
Mevani's move may help the Congress which is seeking support from AHINDA (an acronym for Minorities, Backward Classes and Dalits).
"In April, I will be in Karnataka for 2 weeks, I will tell 20% Dalits in the state that not even their 20 votes should go to them (BJP). An alliance of all mainstream political parties and concrete people's alliance should come together to defeat 'chaddidharis' in the state," Mevani said in Bengaluru.
One of the most important questions ahead of Karnataka Assembly elections is which way will the Dalit vote bank swing? Through his Ahinda politics, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has made all the right noises and doled out sops for the backward classes and Dalits. He has even gone ahead and promised a scaling up of the reservation from 50 to 70 per cent.
However, these moves by Siddaramaiah may not be an assurance that he will bag the votes from the BCs and Dalits. While a large number of them are likely to back the Congress, the fact is that Siddaramaiah may not be able to live upon his reservation promise.
The reservation issue could prove to be a two-edged sword for Siddaramaiah. First and foremost, it would need a constitutional amendment and none see that happening in the next four months. Secondly, Siddaramaiah has raked up other issues such as a separate identity for the Lingayats. Any further move on the issue of reservation could anger the forward communities.
Amid all this, Mevani's remarks assume significance as he is gaining popularity as a youth Dalit leader. It remains to be seen how much impact he actually has has on Karnataka elections.