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BJP has long-term plans behind massive Lambani mobilisation for Modi event

The party has planned another event at Suragondanakoppa, a holy place for Lambanis, in Davangere district, next month to distribute title deeds

January 21, 2023 09:01 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 09:49 am IST - KALABURAGI

Lambani women showing the land rights certificates received from Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a recent event at Malkhed in Kalaburagi district. 

Lambani women showing the land rights certificates received from Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a recent event at Malkhed in Kalaburagi district. 

The massive mobilisation of the Lambani community at Malkhed in Sedam taluk of Kalaburagi district, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the distribution of land rights certificates to tanda (Lambani settlements) dwellers on January 19, is part of the saffron party’s larger strategy of consolidating the community’s support who are an important part of the Scheduled Caste bloc in Karnataka.

It was Lambani votes that played a crucial role in tilting the balance of power in favour of BJP candidate Umesh Jadhav against veteran Congress leader, and currently president of the All India Congress Committee, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Mr. Kharge had to suffer a humiliating defeat with a margin of over 95,000 votes against Mr. Jadhav in the election.

How castes stack up

In Kalaburagi, Lingayats constitute an estimated 8 lakh voters followed by Dalits. Right Dalits constitute around 3.5 lakh voters as compared to around one lakh Left Dalit voters. Mr. Kharge enjoys overwhelming support from the former community, to which he belongs. There are around one lakh Lambani voters, most of whom backed Mr. Jadhav who belonged to the same community, in the last Lok Sabha election. These are believed to have played a key role in ensuring the defeat of Mr. Kharge.

With a sizable portion of Lingayats already being in its favour, the consolidation of Lambani votes is crucial for the BJP to maintain its dominance. Lambanis are a force to reckon with in the neighbouring Vijayapura district also. They are also in good numbers in Bidar and Raichur districts.

From five districts

It is in this backdrop that ensuring Mr. Modi’s presence in the massive mobilisation of Lambanis at the Malkhed event, where Lambanis from five districts — Bidar, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, and Vijayapura — were mobilised, gained prominence. Over 52,000 land rights were distributed to Lambani tanda dwellers at the Malkhed event and the BJP has planned a similar event to be organised at Suragondanakoppa, a holy place for Lambanis, in Davangere district next month to distribute the remaining titles.

“Unlike Lingayats and Vokkaligas who are largely followers of the BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular), respectively, the Lambanis are the followers of their leaders. They tend to vote for their community candidate regardless of which party the candidate represents. In the Chincholi Assembly segment, which has around 30,000 Lambani votes, Mr. Jadhav, who hailed from the same area, has a command over Lambanis,” said a political observer who wished to be unidentified.

Cong.’s counter-strategy

As a counter-strategy, the Congress has roped in the former Minister Revu Naik Belamagi, one of the prominent Lambani leaders in the district. It is believed that his joining the Congress would help the party to grab Lambani votes in Kalaburagi Rural, Chittapur, and Gurmitkal constituencies where the community has an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 votes, as Mr. Belamagi enjoys considerable support among the community in the district.

BJP national leadership’s interest in Kalaburagi may not be confined to the caste calculations for the Assembly elections, but the long-term calculations of making the going tough for Mr. Kharge at his home turf in 2024.

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