Upbeat K’taka BJP makes Cong jittery; party in quandary over tickets to Muslims

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Bengaluru, Jan 20 (IANS) The ruling Congress government in Karnataka, which emerged triumphant against the BJP in the May 2023 Assembly elections, is in a jittery mode following the frenzy over the Pran Pratishtha ceremony at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on January 22. T

And the Grand Old Party has been trying every means to keep its major vote base of Dalits and minorities intact.

Congress sources have confirmed that against the backdrop of the Ayodhya event, it would be difficult for the the party in Karnataka to win Lok Sabha seats if Muslim candidates are given tickets, as it would polarise Hindu votes.

Congress is worried as the advice has come from strategist Sunil Kanugolu’s team, which helped the party seal its victory in Karnataka with the move of the proposal to ban Bajrang Dal and guarantee schemes.

Riding high on the guarantee schemes, as the government had implemented all five guarantees and almost reached all sections of society, it was planning to provide tickets to at least five Muslim candidates to contest the general elections.

It has also been strategising to win 15 to 20 seats.

However, the party seems to be now seriously contemplating the matter, and leaders are in a predicament over the development.

On the other hand, the Congress government has fulfilled a two-decade-old demand of Dalit communities to send a proposal to the Centre to amend Article 341 (3) of the Constitution to enable internal reservation for the SC category.

Minister for Food K.H. Muniyappa, thanking the Congress government, stated it would be possible to render justice to all 101 castes under the SC category. If the central government does not proceed with the amendment, a struggle will be launched until it is done.

The Congress sources also said that the party has planned to attack the Central government on the issue of bringing an amendment to Article 341(3) and alienating Dalits from the BJP.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s announcement of providing Rs 10,000 crore for the welfare of the Muslim community is also being criticised as a desperate measure to continue the strong grip over the Muslim vote bank in the state.

Former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has announced that the Karnataka unit of BJP will hold a protest rally seeking an SIT probe into the Hangal gang rape case by moral policing vigilantes.

Bommai alleged that since the accused are Muslims, Siddaramaiah, who spoke strongly against moral policing, has been tight-lipped about the case.

The former Chief Minister also alleged that the victim, though from the minority community, is being threatened and pressured to take money and withdraw the case.

Karnataka State President B.Y. Vijayendra has charged that instead of giving medical treatment to the victim, the police had taken the accused to the hospital.

Sources explained that the Congress government wants to send out a strong signal to Muslim and Dalit communities that the party is the ultimate protector of their interests.

Siddaramaiah and his council of ministers are in attack mode.

He has challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a public debate over the injustice meted out to Karnataka.

Minister for Cooperation K.N. Rajanna, Minister for Excise R.B. Timmapur, both prominent leaders from oppressed classes, have even issued objectionable statements against Lord Ram.

Siddaramaiah is carefully reminding the Dalit and other oppressed classes by questioning caste hierarchy, untouchability, and inequality in Hindu religion.

The party has been organising conventions for backward and Dalit communities across the state to prevent polarisation.

The objective is to keep the vote bank of Dalits and backward and oppressed classes with the Congress and ensure they don’t tilt towards the BJP under the present circumstances.

Sources explain that the Congress, which ridiculed the BJP after the thumping victory for not appointing the Leader of the Opposition and state President for the Karnataka unit, remains a divided house.

The rivalry between Siddaramaiah and his Deputy Shivakumar is reaching a culminating point soon, party sources have confided.

Home Minister Dr. G. Parameshwara had indicated that those who fail to ensure the victory of Congress will be shown the door.

On the contrary, the BJP has forged an alliance with JD (S), and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy have announced that everything is cordial between the parties.

Kumaraswamy and BJP state President B.Y. Vijayendra have exuded confidence of ensuring victory in all the 28 Lok Sabha seats of the state.

The Congress, which had managed to win only one seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, is in firefighting mode.

The government has declared Basavanna, revered by the Lingayat community as the cultural leader of the state.

The party is all set to accept the controversial caste census to woo oppressed classes and minorities.

It is going to be a tough battle for both the BJP-JD (S) alliance and the ruling Congress, according to leaders from the two sides.



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