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Karnataka Election 2018

The Lingayat card: How it will be played in the Karnataka elections?

Arti Ghargi

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Lingayat

As a matter of fact, the lingayat religious card will definitely be played in Karnataka election but it is equally important to understand how it will be played.

About four months ago, a ground in Karnataka’s Bidar was flooded with people carrying saffron flag. Over 50,000 people from Lingayat community turned up to demand a separate religious status. For anyone familiar with the Karnataka politics, it was crystal clear that the Lingayat rally blew a trumpet for upcoming assembly elections in 2018.

The lingayat community has always been seen as a sect/caste of Hinduism. The reason lies in its similarity with a section of Hindu religion that worships ‘Shiva’. Many also believe that the word lingayat has its roots in ‘Shivalinga’ a symbolic structure that Hindus worship. However, the lingayat community’s struggles to differentiate itself from Hinduism is not a new one. Over the past decade, the demand has got momentum making it unable for politicians to keep their hands off it.

Even during the census of 2011, many in the community ran an awareness program urging the Lingayat community members to not register as Hindus. At the Bidar rally on July 19, the leaders supporting the demand said that Lingayat community is often confused with Veerashaiva sect in Hinduism that worships Shiva. However, the religious leaders believed that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are not same. While the former worship Shiva in Hinduism, the later follows Vachanas and scriptures left behind by Basaveshwara-founder of Lingayat religion.

Also read: Alarming Issues In Karnataka Which No Political Party Is Addressing

Yet, the issue goes far beyond the religious and social construct. One might be too imprudent to believe that the demand for separate religion has got to do with gaining recognition for the religious identity.

In Karnataka alone, lingayat community covers 17% of its total population. The regional politics is heavily influenced by caste-religion dynamics as was evident in Gujarat. Here, Lingayat is one of the dominant community when it comes to vote share.

Also Watch: A run up to Karnataka Elections

Thus, as our Managing Editor Sujit Nair- a keen observer of Karnataka politics put it, “The demand for separate religious status is only motivated by the benefits that come with having a minority status. Reservation being one of them. We saw it in Gujarat, we are going to see it in Karnataka as well.”

As a matter of fact, the lingayat religious card will definitely be played in Karnataka election but it is equally important to understand how it will be played.

Lingayat and BJP

Traditionally, Lingayats have been a loyalist to BJP. BJP who has created its image as a Pro-Hindu party has a heavyweight leader from the community B.S. Yeddyurappa heading its chariot. He is also the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate for the next election. However, the BJP never supported and will never support the demand for separate religion. Yeddyurappa who himself hails from the lingayat community was quoted by TOI as saying, “There is no difference between the Veerashaivas and Lingayats, and they are very much part of Hinduism.” The BJP who is fully aware of its vote bank would never hurt the Hindu sentiments by supporting Lingayat religion demand. On the other hand, it also fully aware that not backing the community might cost the party the 2018 elections.

Also Read: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah Termed Anant Kumar Hegde As “Messenger Of Hate”

Lingayats and Congress:

Congress which is currently ruling the state has found an opportunity on the issue. Traditionally, Lingayats have kept a distance from Congress; so it may seem that supporting the demand may attract a vote bank. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah even told the community that Congress is ready to represent their concern to the central government. The prompt reaction might seem a blow to BJP who still seems to be in a fix over support to the demand. But it can turn out to be a backlash instead.

According to those in Congress, supporting the demand is like “playing with the fire”. Though the number of people who came out in Bidar rally was huge, there is still no unanimous voice among the community. Also, it is really hard to gauge what percent of the community wants the different religion status as to percent of people who oppose it. There is no clear picture.

Also Watch: Flag “poll” of Karnataka

Thus, the chances of Congress benefitting from this are few. On the contrary, by supporting the demand Congress gives an easy passage to BJP to further solidify its Hindu vote base. Yeddyurappa has already accused Congress of playing divisive politics in the state by backing the demand.

BJP is constantly portraying Congress as anti-Hindu in the state, take for instance yogi Adityanath’s comment on Congress government celebrating Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary. The communal violence in the coastal Karnataka has also stirred the politics in the state. In such a scenario, Congress might reconsider running the risk of supporting lingayat demand.

Karnataka Election 2018

HD Kumaraswamy passes floor test in Karnataka Assembly, BJP walks out

News Desk

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Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Friday won the trust vote in the Karnataka assembly shortly after he moved the motion of confidence. Earlier, in a dramatic turn of events, the BJP MLAs staged a walkout from the Assembly minutes ahead of the floor test.

117 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) voted in his favour enabling the JD(S)-Congress alliance to cross the simple majority mark of 112 seats.

Moving the trust vote, he thanked Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun M Kharge, who he said were the first to call him to join hands. He also said his father, former PM H D Deve Gowda, had said if I joined hands with the BJP, the entire family would disown him

The BJP MLAs walked out of the Assembly after Yeddyurappa said that his party will hold a state-wide bandh on May 28, if CM HD Kumaraswamy fails to waive off loans of farmers.

While the Congress has 78 MLAs, Kumaraswamy’s JD(S) has 36, and BSP 1. The alliance has also claimed support of the lone KPJP MLA and an independent. Kumaraswamy had won from two constituencies. The BJP has 104 MLAs.

 

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Karnataka Election 2018

HDK faces floor test today; expected to sail through

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The three-day old Congress-Janata Dal (Secular coalition government in the southern Indian state of Karnataka headed by H D Kumaraswamy is facing a floor test on Friday which it is widely expected to sail through, barring any unforeseeable events, ending the 10-day political uncertainty in the state.

The election for the post of Speaker will precede the vote of confidence, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielding its candidate S Suresh Kumar to take on senior Congress party leader Ramesh Kumar.

With the numbers game tilted in favour of the coalition, 58-year old Kumaraswamy looks to be sitting pretty to win the trial of strength.

Kumaraswamy was sworn in as chief minister on Wednesday with a galaxy of leaders of non-BJP parties in attendance.

The Congress has 78 MLAs, Kumaraswamy’s JD(S) 36, and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 1.

The alliance has also claimed support of the lone KPJP MLA and an Independent. Kumaraswamy had won two seats.

This is the second floor test in less than a week after BJP strongman B S Yeddyurappa had stepped down last Saturday, two days after he assumed office as the chief minister, without going through the motions of a floor test.

The 224-member Assembly has an effective strength of 221, as election for Jayanagar seat was countermanded following the death of the BJP candidate, and deferred in RR Nagar over allegations of electoral malpractices.

The Congress and JD(S) MLAs who have been confined to a hotel and a resort fearing poaching attempts by the BJP were brought in buses to the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of state legislature.

After taking oath, Kumaraswamy had voiced confidence about winning the floor test, but said he had an apprehension that the BJP would try to repeat “Operation Kamala” to bring down his government.

The term “Operation Kamala” or “Operation Lotus” was coined in 2008, when Yeddyurappa took over as the chief minister.

The party was short of three MLAs for a simple majority.

As part of “Operation Kamala”, named after the BJP’s election symbol lotus, some Congress and JD(S) MLAs were persuaded to join the saffron party, relinquish their membership of the Assembly, and re-contest elections.

Their victory made up for the shortfall in numbers.

Suresh Kumar, a fifth term MLA, has said that based on the strength of numbers and various other factors, his party leaders have confidence that he would win.

The BJP is the single largest party in the Assembly with 104 MLAs.

Kumaraswamy will likely have a smooth sailing during the confidence vote but expanding the ministry may be a ticklish and complicated issue with signs of inner contradictions within the coalition already surfacing.

Senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar, who was widely credited with having kept the flock of party MLAs together amid claims of attempted poaching by the BJP, is reportedly not happy after being ignored for the deputy chief minister’s post that went to the party’s Dalit face G Parameshwara.

“Is it the same for those who win one seat and those who win the state? I have not come to politics to take sanyas. I will play chess not football,” Shivakumar had said.

In an indication of the tough challenges ahead for Kumaraswamy, deputy chief minister and KPCC president G Parameshwara said on Thursday that the coalition was yet to discuss the tenure of the JD(S) leader as the chief minister.

“We have not yet discussed those modalities,” he had said in response to a question about whether Kumaraswamy will be the chief minister for full five years.

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Karnataka Election 2018

Deputy CM says full 5-year term for Kumaraswamy not final

News Desk

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Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy will face a floor test today which he is widely expected to sail through, barring any unforeseeable events, ending the 10-day political uncertainty in the state. Ahead of this, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara made a surprising comment on the formation of the government and said that they have not yet discussed those modalities for a full five-year term.

“We have not yet discussed those modalities,” he said in response to a question whether Mr Kumaraswamy will be the Chief Minister for a full five-year term.

When asked again whether Congress was okay with giving chief minister’s post to JD(S) for full a five-year term, Parameshwara, also the KPCC chief, said ” … after discussing … looking at the pros and cons (we will decide), our main intention is to give good administration.”

Ahead of his swearing-in, Mr Kumaraswamy had dismissed reports about his party working out a power-sharing formula of heading the government for 30 months each, with its coalition partner the Congress, saying “No such talks have taken place.”

After taking the oath, Kumaraswamy had voiced confidence about winning the floor test but said he had an apprehension that the BJP would try to repeat “Operation Kamala” to bring down his government.

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