Karnataka

Bypolls: Minority narrative missing during campaigns

The Congress and the Janata Dal (S) have been silent on the issue so far. file photo

The Congress and the Janata Dal (S) have been silent on the issue so far. file photo  

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This is in contrast to 2018 Assembly, and 2019 LS polls

If there is one narrative that is conspicuous by its absence in the campaign for the bypolls, it is that of minority welfare by both the Congress and the JD(S). This is in stark contrast to the 2018 Assembly and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when this was an important plank.

The Congress, which had played up the secular card earlier, is now quiet on that front but for occasional utterances by Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah. The main narrative in the bypolls has been to defeat the disqualified legislators, and little else.

Of the 15 Assembly constituencies going to polls, Muslims are seen as a decisive factor in two — Shivajinagar and Vijayanagar constituencies. Here, Muslims are estimated to be over 50,000 in number. In most of the other constituencies, the minority voters are estimated to be in the range between 20,000 and 25,000.

While the JD(S) has fielded two minority candidates, the Congress has fielded one. The Congress sources said that the party is not foregrounding minority welfare as an issue now — post the Ayodhya verdict and the abrogation of Article 370 — since it could end up polarising Hindu votes.

The Congress is also talking little about Tipu Jayanthi [now scrapped by the BJP] or the allocations it made for minority welfare during its regime. Besides, some of the important Muslim leaders are also not in action or restricting their movement to Shivajinagar.

While the attack on Tanveer Sait, MLA, has kept him away from polls, Chamarajapet legislator B.Z. Zameer Ahmed is believed to be playing a limited role on health grounds. C.M. Ibrahim, Congress MLC, is believed to be miffed with the party leaders and staying away from campaigning.

U.T. Khader and N.A. Haris, MLAs, are involved mostly in campaigning in Shivajinagar.

A JD(S) leader said that Muslims were not with them for various reasons earlier. They believe that the Congress calling the party, the ‘B team’ of the BJP, cost them dear in the 2018 polls. They hope to see a change this time around.

When a JD(S) minority leader was asked if the party’s appeal among minorities could be affected, since the leaders have hinted at their intention of supporting the BJP government if it becomes a minority, he said they have been trying to clear the intention behind such statements in informal meetings with community leaders. “We are also highlighting the work done by the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda for the community,” he added.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 5:47:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/bypolls-minority-narrative-missing-during-campaigns/article30142518.ece

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