KARNATAKA

Another honour for north Karnataka

M.P. Prakash

M.P. Prakash  

Will M.P. Prakash be able to deliver the Lingayat vote?

M. Madan Mohan

HUBLI: The elevation of M.P. Prakash as Deputy Chief Minister in place of Siddaramaiah brings one more honour to north Karnataka in terms of sharing of power with the southern part of the State.

Mr. Prakash, who is a Lingayat, a community that dominates the region, joins other important leaders of the community from the region such as the late Veerendra Patil and S.R. Bommai who were Chief Ministers.

The question being asked is whether Mr. Prakash can deliver the Lingayat vote and north Karnataka to his party, the Janata Dal (Secular).

For with Mr. Siddaramaiah espousing the cause of the AHIND (Alpasankhyataru, Hindulidavaru and Dalitaru) group of the communities, the JD(S) needs some political cushion in its vote-bank politics to remain in the reckoning.

The Lingayats in north Karnataka, who originally supported the Congress, moved away from the party following the manner in which Veerendra Patil was sent out of office.

For a while they supported the Janata Dal when the late Ramakrishna Hegde was at the helm of affairs. But after Mr. Hegde was expelled from the party when H.D. Deve Gowda became Prime Minister, the community more or less veered round to the other anti-Congress outfit, the Bharatiya Janata Party.

While the Congress has tried and failed to woo back the Lingayats, the JD(S) has started the exercise now. And it is quite an arduous task because Mr. Deve Gowda is still perceived as anti-north Karnataka and anti-Lingayat.

With the Congress entrusting the chief ministership and the post of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President to non-Lingayats — N. Dharam Singh and M. Mallikarjun Kharge respectively — the elevation of Mr. Prakash assumes significance. Incidentally, he is the second Lingayat from Bellary district to move up the JD(S) hierarchy, the first being N. Thippanna who replaced Mr. Siddaramaiah as the President of the State party unit.

One disadvantage for Mr. Prakash is that he is yet to be recognised as the acknowledged leader of the community, despite his more than two-decade-old political innings on the anti-Congress plank. The Lingayat community lacks a leader like Mr. Deve Gowda for the Vokkaligas and Mr. Siddaramaiah for the other backward classes.

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