Denial of special status to A.P. casts its shadow in Karnataka

Andhra Pradesh Deputy CM K.E. Krishnamurthy asks Telugu-speaking people to vote against BJP

April 09, 2018 11:31 pm | Updated 11:31 pm IST - Sharath S. Srivatsa

The issue of not according special category status to Andhra Pradesh seems to be casting its shadow on Karnataka elections. The ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has tacitly started approaching Telugu-speaking voters in Karnataka, especially in Bengaluru and border districts, to vote against the BJP in the Karnataka Assembly elections scheduled on May 12.

Over the last fortnight, a number of WhatsApp messages have been circulated asking Telugu-speaking electors to not vote for the BJP as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government has “betrayed” Andhra Pradesh by not according special status to it. The TDP has already pulled out of the NDA on the issue.

On Monday, Deputy Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh K.E. Krishnamurthy told reporters in Bengaluru that the party would ask Telugu speakers here, with links back in Andhra to not vote for Mr. Narendra Modi [BJP] in Karnataka elections. “Mr. Modi has cheated the Telugu people. Please remember while voting not to vote BJP,” he said. When asked if they would be asking people to vote in favour of anyone, he said: “Anybody but Mr. Modi.” According to Mr. Krishnamurthy’s office, the Deputy Chief Minister was not on an official visit, but on a personal visit. Sources said that his daughter lives in Bengaluru with her family.

Incidentally, in the last couple of weeks, some senior TDP leaders and Ministers have openly been speaking about advising the Telugu-speaking population here to not vote in favour of Mr. Modi during public meetings or party workers’ meetings in Andhra Pradesh. However, neither the party or Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has made this position official yet.

Traditionally, several districts in Karnataka have deep connections with Andhra. South Bengaluru has a sizeable chunk of voters hailing from Chittoor, Kurnool, Hindupur and Anantpur, who are in real estate or hotel businesses while a big chunk also forms the labour force.

In north Karnataka districts of Raichur and Ballari, served by Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers, several thousands of farmers from Andhra have taken up cultivation of land by taking it on lease from local farmers.

According to a senior TDP leader from Chittoor, about 30 constituencies that have sizeable population of Telugu voters have been identified across Karnataka. These are in Bengaluru, Ballari, Raichur, Tumakuru, Chitradurga, Kolar, Chickballapur, and Bidar. “What BJP has done to Andhra Pradesh is an insult. We will be having closed-door meetings with voters. We will only tell them not to vote for BJP. They can vote for any other party of their choice,” the TDP leader said.

A group of IT professionals have been supporting TDP through an online presence of Bangalore TDP Forum since 2013. “It is a reflection of the mood of Telugu people. Special category status is an emotional issue, and we feel betrayed. We will start online campaigns and use our vast WhatsApp network to highlight how Andhra was cheated by Mr. Modi,” said founding president of the forum K. Veeraanjaneyulu.

With inputs from Andhra Pradesh Bureau

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