Failure to counter BJP’s politicisation of Pulwama attack a reason for Congress setback in Karnataka

A five-member fact-finding committee constituted by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee has collected information from 18 Lok Sabha constituencies.

The Congress’ failure to counter the nationalistic hysteria built up by the BJP on the Pulwama attack in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls has been found as one of the reasons for the party’s severe setback in the elections.

The five-member fact-finding committee — constituted by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) to probe reasons for the party’s debacle in the elections — has collected information from 18 Lok Sabha constituencies.

Midway through the exercise, a committee member told The Hindu on condition of anonymity that deliberate politicisation of the Pulwama terror strike added to the Hindutva sentiments ingrained into the minds of people in several parts of the State by the BJP’s propaganda machinery like the RSS.

“During our tour of the coastal belt comprising Udupi, Mangaluru, Uttara Kannada, and Shivamogga, we found that BJP’s frontal organisations like the RSS had successfully promoted Hindutva by misusing even stray incidents. If a Hindu died for any reason, it would be attributed to handiwork of a Muslim with a view to mislead people emotionally. That is how Hindutva gained ground in parts of the State,” the member said.

In addition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image among the masses also helped the BJP. Though it was hard for anyone to deny that the Congress had carried out developmental works in the State, the party had not been able to respond to the hype by the BJP over Pulwama. “Our narrative was focussed only on development and we did not bother to counter the BJP on Pulwama. In fact, there were more terror strikes during the NDA rule. The terrorists attacked even military bases in Uri and Pathankot during the NDA rule,” the member said.

Another pain-point for the Congress was its alliance with the JD(S). “The Congress would have done better without the alliance,” the member said. In most parts of the State, particularly in the old Mysore region, the votes of JD(S) supporters were polled by the BJP.

“How else will you analyse the BJP securing a lead over alliance candidate C.H. Vijayshankar in Chamundeshwari Assembly segment in Mysuru Lok Sabha segment when the party had polled niggardly 12,064 votes during the 2018 Assembly elections against 1.21 lakh votes secured by JD(S) candidate G.T. Deve Gowda and 85,283 polled by Congress’ Siddaramaiah,” the member questioned.

Most JD(S) votes had gone to the BJP even in Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha segment. “It was quid pro quo. BJP’s V. Srinivas Prasad had helped Mr. Deve Gowda during the Assembly elections. It was payback time for Mr. Deve Gowda.” The Lingayat factor also worked against the Congress. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa enjoyed widespread support among the Lingayats.

The committee comprises former chairman of the Legislative Council V.R. Sudarshan, former Minister Basavaraj Rayareddi, former MP R. Dhruvanarayan, Naseer Ahmed, and Veerakumar Patil. It has not only been interacting with partymen, but has also shared a questionnaire prepared by Mr. Rayareddi to get confidential information from them.

The report will be submitted on October 2.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 3:06:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/failure-to-counter-bjps-politicisation-of-pulwama-attack-a-reason-for-cong-setback/article29103390.ece

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