Parties vie for Vokkaliga vote that's crucial in nearly 100 Assembly seats in Karnataka

News Network
April 9, 2023

Bengaluru, Apr 9: As Vokkaligas (15 per cent of the population) are considered to be the second politically significant major community of Karnataka after Lingayats (17 per cent), the focus is on how whether there would be a shift in their voting stance in the May 10 assembly election as the ruling BJP has aggressively tried to woo them.

One can gauge the role Vokkaligas play in Karnataka politics from the fact that it has given seven Chief Ministers to Karnataka since independence and a PM.

As a retired IAS officer puts it, this is a community which has rich political awareness. “Of the 17 Chief Ministers Karnataka had, seven were from the Vokkaliga community. K Chengalaraya Reddy, Kengal Hanumanthaiah and Kadidal Manjappa, the first three chief ministers of the state, were from the Vokkaliga Community,” the officer said.

He added that H D Deve Gowda, a Vokkaliga, became the first person from Karnataka to occupy the post of Prime Minister.

The Old Mysuru region, the community's stronghold, comprises Ramanagara, Mandya, Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Kodagu, Kolar, Tumakuru and Hassan districts. The region has 58 assembly constituencies, which is more than one-fourth of the total number of seats in the 224-member House.

JD(S) represented 24 seats, Congress 18 and BJP 15 in this region in the current assembly. This apart, the community is present in sizeable numbers in Bengaluru Urban district comprising 28 constituencies, Bengaluru Rural district (four constituencies), and Chikkaballapura (eight constituencies).

A political activist Raje Gowda claimed that Vokkaligas dominate in all the 27 out of 28 assembly constituencies of Bengaluru urban district barring Anekal. In the Bengaluru rural district and Chikkaballapura, they hold sway, he added.

“We are scattered ideologically and do not vote en masse like certain other communities. This shows we are liberal in choosing our leaders, which can be seen either as our weakness or our strength,” Raje Gowda quipped.

H D Deve Gowda-headed JD (S) counts the Vokkaligas as its main vote base in the Old Mysuru region, where it's main fight is with the Congress though of late the BJP has been able to make some inroads.

Apparently, seeking to expand its base among this community, the BJP government came up with its 'reservation engineering' making the 2B category of four per cent reservation, exclusively for 'other backward Muslims' redundant and distributed the two per cent equally among Lingayats and Vokkaligas. With this, reservation for Vokkaligas has gone up from four per cent to six per cent.

The move pleased the revered seer of Vokkaliga community, AdiChunchanagiri Math pontiff Swami Nirmalanandanatha, who praised the BJP government.

As part of its Vokkaliga "appeasement" exercise, the BJP built a 108-ft tall Nada Prabhu Kempe Gowda's statue, the founder of Bengaluru and 16th century chieftain of Vijayanagara dynasty, near the Bengaluru International Airport.

Recently, Karnataka Minister Munirathna, who is also a filmmaker, came up with a plan to make a movie 'Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda' based on a fake story. The fake story is based on a belief among a section of people that there were two Vokkaliga chieftains in erstwhile Mysuru kingdom by name Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda. It was not the colonial British army but these two chieftains who killed the 18th century Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan, a claim supported by even some BJP Ministers.

However, Munirathna dropped the plan after Swami Nirmalanandanatha asked him not to proceed with the project saying that there was no historical basis behind the story and it would only create confusion among people.

A Vokkaliga Sangha office-bearer said requesting anonymity that had the movie been made, it would have helped the BJP to garner more votes. “The 'Uri Gowda Nanje Gowda' project might have been dumped, but it is still discussed among Vokkaligas. Further, the increase in reservation will also have a bearing on the election, it seems,” he said.

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News Network
May 19,2024

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Mangaluru: Disgruntled BJP leader and former MLA K Raghupathi Bhat, who is contesting the legislative council election as an independent candidate from the South West Graduates constituency, said the BJP has adopted the “godfather culture” of the Congress.

Bhat told reporters here on Saturday, that he has not tried to appease any senior BJP leaders to get a party ticket to contest the MLC poll.

“I am contesting and seeking votes based on my achievements. My contesting may have a negative impact on the BJP. However, I want to go back to the BJP after winning this election,” Bhat said, and refused to answer the actual reason for the denial of a BJP ticket to him.

“I have no idea who played from behind that I was denied a ticket for the MLC poll.

Earlier, the BJP had a culture of selecting candidates for MLA and MLC polls by seeking the opinion of party workers at the booth level, followed by discussions at mandal and district levels.

Now the situation is such that even if one person’s name was sent from the state, the final list will be different. The godfather culture of the Congress has stretched into our party too. Only those who appease leaders get a ticket in the BJP. However, I have not appeased any leader. I believe in the support of party workers, and with this confidence I am contesting the election,” Bhat said.

To a query, Bhat said that he has not contacted by BJP leaders after deciding to contest the MLC poll.

“I have already requested all leaders that I should get the party’s Form B to contest the MLC poll from the South West Graduates constituency. I have told them that I am also contesting as an independent candidate on behalf of the BJP. The ultimate aim of my contesting the election is that senior leaders should know the injustice that honest party workers are facing in the BJP,” he said.

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News Network
May 23,2024

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Mangaluru, May 23: BJP leader and Belthangady MLA Harish Poonja who appeared before the police station for an enquiry last night in connection with a case a case of threatening police, was released on station bail.

According to the police, the MLA was served notices in connection with a case registered for staging a protest without seeking permission and for allegedly declaring that he was ready to hold the collar of the police for the sake of 'karyakartas'.

On completion of the enquiry, he was released on station bail. He was booked under Sections 143, 147, 341, 504, 506 and 149 of IPC.

Drama at residence 

There was high drama at the home of Belthangady MLA Harish Poonja when police reached on Wednesday, requesting the former to come to the police station for an inquiry, but with the MLA staying put at his residence without yielding to police request, and with members of the BJP legal cell at his house mulling options to avoid his imminent arrest, the situation was fluid with a large number of party workers gathering near the MLA’s residence.

Belthangady police had booked MLA Poonja after he attempted to pressurise the station officer to release a BJP worker, who was arrested in an illegal quarrying case and stocking of explosives at the site, at Moodala in Melanthabettu village of Belthangady last week.

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News Network
May 17,2024

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New Delhi: In fresh claim, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that his government sent an envoy to Israel urging them to stop the airstrike in Gaza during Ramadan. He said that he urged Israel to maintain peace rather than engage in combat during the holy month.

In an interview with Aaj Tak, PM Modi said that his envoy told Israel they should not bomb Gaza, at least during the auspicious month of Ramadan.

"During the month of Ramadan, I sent my special envoy to Israel to meet and explain to Prime Minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) that he should not carry out bombings in Gaza during Ramadan. They made every effort to follow it, but in the end, there was a fight for 2-3 days," he said.

The Prime Minister said that he does not publicise such things even though people in India keep "cornering him on the Muslims issue".

PM Modi said that some other countries also tried to speak to Israel to halt the bombings and may have also achieved results.

"They may have got the results too. I also tried," he said.

During the interview, PM Modi also said that he made standalone visits to both Israel and Palestine, unlike earlier governments which used to display token secularism.

"There was a fashion earlier that if one has to go to Israel, a visit to Palestine is a must. Do secularism and come back. But I refused to do it," he said.

The Prime Minister also recounted an episode when he needed to travel to Palestine via Jordan.

"When the President of Jordan, who is a direct descendent of Prophet Muhammad, came to know that I am going to Palestine over (the airspace of Jordan), he told me 'Modi ji, you cannot go like this. You are my guest and will use my helicopter'," Modi claimed.

Describing the unique amalgamation of circumstances, he continued, "I went to his home for dinner, but the helicopter was of Jordan, the destination was Palestine, and I was escorted by Israeli flight attendants. All three are different but for Modi, all came together in the sky."

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