With key roles in poll-bound states, our young turks look to unlock potential for parties

Karnataka has always occupied an important place in national politics
Last Updated 27 March 2021, 17:36 IST

From BJP’s C T Ravi speaking tongue-twisting Tamil to Congress’ Dinesh Gundu Rao shaking a leg, Karnataka’s politicians are having a ball as both national parties have roped them into action in key poll-bound states.

While national parties have often reposed faith on leaders from Karnataka, what is different this election season is the sheer number who find themselves in the spotlight.

Following his elevation as the BJP’s national general secretary, Ravi was deputed as the party’s incharge of Tamil Nadu along with Goa and Maharashtra. Union Minister Pralhad Joshi and Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan will oversee the BJP’s poll effort in Kerala, whereas Forest Minister Aravind Limbavali is part of the BJP’s localised team in West Bengal.

It is said that Ravi got the job given his organisational background and pro-Hindutva credentials. Limbavali is seen to be an election strategist and his Mahadevapura constituency is home to many Bengalis.

The Congress also made some interesting picks for national roles: Rao as in-charge of Tamil Nadu, Goa and Puducherry, senior leader H K Patil as incharge of Maharashtra and Kerala screening committee chairman, former minister Krishna Byre Gowda as a member of the party’s Central Election Authority. Rao is seen as Gandhi family loyalist and effective organiser for the party.

Deputing younger leaders for key elections is a new phenomenon, political scientist Muzaffar Assadi says. “Senior leaders were offered such roles in elections before. Today, national parties prefer youngsters as it will be a training exercise for them to strategize for elections in the future,” he says.

Ashwath Narayan, who is actively involved in the BJP’s poll efforts in Kerala, tells DH: “This offers us an excellent opportunity to learn as politicians as we get exposed to various conditions. Moreover, we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to a particular geographical area.”

Congress’ Patil believes the trend is good for Karnataka, politically. “Currently, both national parties are backing leaders from Karnataka and are elevating them,” he says, adding that sincere efforts by the chosen representatives would yield considerable political mileage for Karnataka in the coming years.

The trend commenced with a Kannadiga, B L Santhosh, being appointed as the number-two in the BJP in 2018 as its national general secretary (organization). Also, the chiefs of the youth wings of both parties are from Karnataka - Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya became BJP Yuva Morcha president in 2020 and B V Srinivas the Youth Congress president in 2019.

Though it is an encouraging sign, the gamble will take time to yield dividends. “The success of these leaders will be measured with how the party fares in the polls,” Assadi says.

“Rather than sending them during elections alone, parties should consider deputing them for a few years to set up an organic link with local leaders. This will help them grow beyond the role of mere observers implementing the diktats of the high command,” he feels.

Karnataka has always occupied an important place in national politics: From S Nijalingappa becoming the first and only Kannadiga to become the AICC president, Indira Gandhi and her daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi contesting elections from the state, BJP’s H N Ananth Kumar rising to become the BJP’s South India face... the list goes on, and there’s promise for more in the future.

(Published 27 March 2021, 15:42 IST)

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