By projecting B Sreeramalu as the star poll campaigner, the BJP is playing the pro-tribal “card as it did in North-Eastern states to woo tribal votes, in” Karnataka, say political analysts. “After tasting a historic win in North-Eastern states like Tripura and Nagaland, BJP is now playing pro-tribal card to attract tribal votes in Karnataka,” leading political scientist Sandeep Shastri told PTI here. “Hence, it is projecting Sreeramulu, a tribal leader belonging to Valmiki Nayak community, as star campaigner in the runup to the assembly election,” he said.
Sreeramulu has emerged as the star campaigner for BJP after the party decided to field him from Badami to give a tough fight to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who also has filed”nomination from there, apart from Chamundeshwari constituency. Sreeramulu is also contesting from Molakalmuru in Chitradurga district, a well-known Congress bastion.
Another political analyst and professor of political science at Karnatak University Dr Harish Ramaswamy also agreed that the BJP was playing the N-E states pro-tribal card by” projecting Sreeramulu as star campaigner. The only challenge BJP faces is to garner tribal votes from North Karnataka belt, according to him.
“Sreeramulu’s influence and his presence is felt, stretching from Hyderabad-Karnataka to Chitradurga. He has been very popular face among tribals here. The only task Sreeramulu has on his hands is to create an army of people to see the tribal votes getting transferred to BJP from Congress,” he said.
“It is a difficult job though, but given Sreeramulu’s approach and identity he develops amongst tribals might really help him,” Ramaswamy said. Shastri said Jain-Lokniti-CSDS Survey done by his firm was already showing tribal votes shifting from Congress to BJP. “BJP expects to penetrate into tribal support base” including Chamarajnagar, Mysuru and Bagalkot districts,” he” said.
Shastri said though the tribal population in Karnataka was not as large as North-Eastern states and Jharkhand, their votes become important in the event of a stiff competition in the May 12 assembly election.
“Tribals, in Karnataka, are dominating in 15 to 20 assembly constituencies, which becomes very much crucial, in the event of a stiff electoral battle,” he said.
Shastri said BJP was the only political party which has a different strategy for “wooing tribals, because unlike Dalits, they have completely different culture and identity.”
“Other parties keep Dalits and tribals in one basket, but BJP is the only party which has understood to have different strategies for these two communities, and they have been” successful doing that,” he said. Tribals cannot be saffronised as BJP did to Dalits, bringing them back to the Hindutva fold, he said.