While earlier efforts of progressive forces in Karnataka to form a political alternative for the electorate failed miserably, the Praja Pragathi Ranga (PPR), an umbrella organisation of various progressive organisations, is making yet another attempt in this direction.
The PPR, led by Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) leader Kodihalli Chandrashekar, is trying to field candidates in over 100 Assembly constituencies this election.
A few political parties and leading personalities, who were associated with the PPR initially, have deserted it. While, Chandrashekhar Patil joined the Karnataka Janata Paksha led by former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, C.S. Dwarakanath, the former chairman of the State Backward Classes Commission, joined the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Then there are the BSP and the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), earlier with the PPR, who are fielding candidates of their own in 199 and 25 constituencies, respectively.
Looking back at previous efforts in the last three decades, it is clear that attempts by progressive forces failed miserably in the face of money power politics practised by mainstream political parties.
Writer and journalist P. Lankesh, who influenced a generation, dreamt of providing a political alternative inspired by Ram Manohar Lohia. He launched Karnataka Pragati Ranga (KPR) in 1987.
However, the KPR did not make a dent in the political arena.
Around the same time, the KRRS, headed by M.D. Nanjundaswamy, launched the Kannada Desha. The party contested in the Assembly elections for the first time in 1989 and was expected to emerge as a third forum. However, except Mr. Nanjundaswamy, Babagouda Patil and K.S. Puttanniah, none succeeded in making it to the Assembly.
“Had both Lankesh and Nanjundaswamy joined hands, there could possibly have been a third alternative political force by now. However, ego clashes ruined that chance,” said Prof. Patil.
After nearly a decade, noted writer and social thinker Devanuru Mahadeva tried to bring farmers and Dalits together in the Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha (SKP). Though the SKP fielded its candidates in 2008 Assembly elections and the 2009 Parliamentary elections, the result was totally disappointing.
‘No ideological clarity’
Though the present formation of the PPR, is seen by many as a forum without ideological clarity, its president, Mr. Chandrashekar, said its agenda is to empower communities at grassroots-level.