With just a fortnight left for the Lok Sabha election, the Janata Dal (Secular) leaders are playing the caste card to polarise the big chunk of Vokkaliga voters in Mandya parliamentary constituency.
The JD(S) leadership has reportedly entrusted the responsibility of playing the caste card on MP L R Shivaramegowda, who is using the ‘Sumalatha Naidu’ weapon to woo Vokkaligas.
Despite drawing criticism from various quarters, the sitting MP has continued to use the caste card at his political speeches in the district.
This is not the first time, caste is being used as a weapon to attack the opponent. During the Lok Sabha bypolls in 2013, the opponents had used the caste card to prove that Congress candidate Ramya was not a ‘Gowdathi’. But, that did not work then. The same tactics were used in the 2014 elections, and Ramya lost with a narrow margin. However, the caste card was played efficiently during the Assembly elections, last year, at all the seven constituencies.
Now, the party leaders have resorted to the old trick saying that Sumalatha is not a Gowdathi from the day she decided to contest the polls from Mandya. MLA K T Srikantegowda had set the ball rolling: “Sumalatha is not a Gowdathi and hails from Andhra Pradesh.”
The JD(S) leadership had distanced itself from Srikantegowda’s statement, initially. But the party has raked up the caste issue again through Shivaramegowda, said a local JD(S) leader.
Interestingly, the leaders who are playing the caste cards have a liberal outlook on life. Shivaramegowda, who is creating ripples with casteist remarks, has allowed inter-caste marriage of his children. The same holds true to Transport Minister D C Thammanna. But, when it comes to politics, they try to play caste politics, say locals.
Mandya constituency is witnessing a fever-pitched battle between Independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh, and coalition nominee Nikhil Kumaraswamy.