Karnataka Elections: Saffron leaders, particularly from the backward-caste Billava community, have raised a banner of rebellion in the constituency after the announcement of candidates for the eight Assembly seats in Dakshina Kannada district and five in Udupi last month
Bharatiya Janata Party is banking high on Hindutva politics in Karnataka elections with PM Narendra Modi targetting the Congress for allegedly trying to polarise the Muslim community. The prime minister, on Saturday, held a rally in Mangaluru, which is considered a stronghold of BJP in the state. The three Parliamentary constituencies here – Uttara Kannada, Udupi-Chikamagulur and Dakshina Kannada – contain 24 Assembly constituencies. And hence it should be no surprise that Modi wants to wrests these Assembly segments from the Congress.
However, the coastal city, which is considered as the laboratory of RSS ideology in the state, saw BJP being virtually decimated at the hands of Congress in 2013. This time, it’s a matter of pride for the prime minister and his team to win the region.
The biggest problem for BJP this time – the rebellion from own party leaders who have been its foot soldiers. A report in The Indian Express says local saffron leaders, particularly from the backward-caste Billava community, have raised a banner of rebellion in the constituency after the announcement of candidates for the eight Assembly seats in Dakshina Kannada district and five in Udupi last month.
The Billavas form largest, 30 per cent, of the total electorate here and make up the mass of foot soldiers in Sangh Parivar groups. The saffron party, in a curious experiment, has fielded one Billava community member in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi each, while giving six to Bunts and two to Brahmins. The Billavas feel that the party has denied them political opportunities since it formed a government in Karnataka in 2008. The community has also not welcomed fielding of the two upper-caste groups in the party.
The saffron party leaders have apprehensions about party prospects in at least five seats of Dakshina Kannada due to Billava anger in the May 12 elections. The community members are also angry over the denial of a ticket to veteran Hindutva activist Satyajit Surathkal, 48, considered a contemporary of Union minister Anant Kumar Hegde in right-wing activism in Karnataka.
The leader was expected to contest from Mangalore North constituency, where the Congress’s Moinuddin Bawa is the sitting MLA. However, the party fielded Bharath Shetty, a young dentist and former JD(S) leader.
Surathkal, who had been at the forefront of protests over the killing of RSS worker Sharath Madivala in Bantwal last August, had initially threatened to contest as an Independent but is now staying silent.