BJP banks on bypolls to infiltrate Ahinda vote base

BJP banks on bypolls to infiltrate Ahinda vote base

BJP candidate MTB Nagaraj seeks votes during a campaign in Ittasandra village of Nandagudi hobli in Hosakote taluk on Tuesday. DH Photo

The ruling BJP will look to dent the Congress’ Ahinda vote base by ensuring the victory of four disqualified legislators who are Kurubas, the community that Congress leader Siddaramaiah belongs to. 

Ahinda is a Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits. It is widely believed that the Congress rode to power in 2013 and managed to win 80 seats in the May 2018 polls thanks to the Ahinda, with Siddaramaiah making efforts to emerge as their leader. 

The BJP has fielded MTB Nagaraj, Byrathi Basavaraj, R Shankar and H Vishwanath - all Kurubas - and their victory in the December 5 bypolls will give the saffron party a shot in the arm while potentially dealing a blow to Siddaramaiah’s credibility as the community’s leader. 

The narrative seems to be headed that way, with Nagaraj mincing no words while attacking Siddaramaiah’s credentials as a Kuruba leader. He told reporters earlier this week: "Siddaramaiah betrayed not only me, but also the community. In his tenure as chief minister for five years, he had just two Kurubas as ministers. When H D Deve Gowda was CM, he had six Vokkaligas and S M Krishna had eight Vokkaligas.” 

Nagaraj also pointed out that Kurubas numbered 60 lakh in the state. "In his 40-year career, Siddaramaiah was deputy CM and CM, but he didn’t give us a medical or engineering college. He neither included us under Category-1 nor recommended our inclusion into SC/ST category,” Nagaraj said. 

Apparently, making inroads into the Ahinda vote bank is a long-term plan for the BJP. The saffron party has traditionally enjoyed the support of the dominant Lingayat community. With leaders such as B Sreeramulu and Ramesh Jarkiholi, the party can claim the support of the Scheduled Tribes.

To woo the Dalits, the BJP is said to have appointed Govind Karjol as deputy chief minister. Plus, the party is hopeful that the appointment of C N Ashwath Narayan will help garner support from the Vokkaligas, the other dominant community.