Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi
Karnataka Assembly Polls: The move to ban the Bajrang Dal if it violates the Congress manifesto for the May 10 Karnataka assembly elections is neither an end in itself nor a move to bring more votes and seats to the BJP. This is nothing but a cold and deliberate political move to “reverse polarization and consolidate the secular vote in favor of the Congress”.
After the BJP’s major presence in Karnataka’s political scene, what happened in the state was that the coastal region with about 20 seats became a Hindutva laboratory, where the BJP gained immense political strength based on the spread of core issues. Ram Mandir, Article 370, UCC, Halal, Hijab, Ajaan, Tipu Sultan and the like. In this belt, BJP has already maximized seats in the assembly and parliamentary elections. And even if the BJP wins on the Bajrang Dal issue, it will get additional votes in its stronghold, not additional seats in other regions.
Also, the appeal and effectiveness of Hindutva issues is saturated and people in other regions are generally more concerned with bread and butter issues, development and growth of the state and their personal well-being. Prices, rises, inflation and unemployment are real problems that affect men and women on the ground.
“This is neither an agenda of the Congress nor this issue can win BJP more seats and votes in various regions of the state except coastal Karnataka, which is otherwise with the BJP. The Congress seems to have cleverly played on the BJP’s psychology and seems to have mentioned its intention to ban Bajrang Dal, knowing that the BJP would take the bait,” said political analyst Professor Sandeep Shastri.
This move has already resulted in the BJP and its ecosystem being brought to a fever pitch with state-wide protests (chanting of Hanuman Chalisa at temples by Bajrang Dal members and BJP workers).
“Hindutva issues have definitely reached saturation point and may not help the BJP any more than they did in BJP strongholds,” Prof Shastri told Rashtradoot. Despite his massive campaign against Bajrang Dal and turning it into an issue with religious overtones – Bajrang Dal with Bajrang Bali (another name for Mr. Hanuman) – in terms of polarization and capturing more votes, it will not happen as even the floating voters. deals with such questions. And those who might be affected by the Bajrang Dal issue voted for the BJP anyway, Prof. Shastri opined.
However, it may happen that through this statement, the Congress may benefit from reverse polarization and consolidation of minority votes in its favor.
Another political analyst said that now the Congress is driving the agenda and now the Bajrang Dal issue has been taken up by the entire BJP leadership, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the karyakartas. And coupled with this is the vehemence of Congress leaders to reiterate their decision to ban Bajrang Dal if it violates law and order.
The Karnataka BJP leadership was not very willing to take up polarizing issues in this election as indicated by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai for whom issues like Ajaan, Halal, Hijab etc. were not poll questions. But now even he has to forcefully raise the Bajrang Dal issue like any other BJP leader.
But with this move, the Congress has made the BJP do exactly what it does best. Perhaps after a careful cost-benefit analysis, the Congress took a political gamble knowing that it had little to lose in coastal Karnataka, where it was losing anyway. At best, it would win one or two seats in this region, but the ban statement could help consolidate minority votes, which would allow the party to pick up some seats in other regions, especially those it narrowly lost in the last election. If this happens in the Old Mysore region, a stronghold of the Janata Dal (S), there is a chance that the regional parties will be reduced to smaller numbers and ensure that the assembly is not suspended.
There is a theoretical possibility that the 13 percent Muslim vote may consider voting for the Congress this time. Also, since Bajrang Dal has been alleged to have been involved in attacks on churches, Christian votes may also reach the Congress.
But it remains to be seen whether this cost-benefit analysis will stand the test of time.
In just ten days, when the votes are counted on May 13, Congress and the country will know whether he kicked an own goal or hit the ball.