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Published On: Wed, Jan 16th, 2019

Karnataka Crisis Deepens:”Missing” Congress Lawmakers Surfaces

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KNT bs01qoro_anand-singh-ani_625x300_15_January_19GURGAON : A group of Youth Congress workers today protested outside a resort in Haryana where the BJP’s Karnataka MLAs have been camping in an “effort to thwart any poaching attempt” by the ruling JDS-Congress coalition. Around 20 Youth Congress workers led by Haryana Pradesh Congress General Secretary Pradeep Singh raised slogans against the NDA government outside the five-star ITC Grand Bharat resort located on the outskirts of Gurgaon.The protesters alleged that the BJP was “disrespecting the Constitution and murdering democracy” in the country.
Meanwhile, sources said BJP’s Karnataka unit chief BS Yeddyurappa is likely to hold a meeting with the party MLAs who are camping at the resort and discuss the prevailing situation in the state.They said the 104 BJP legislators will stay put till the top leaders in the party give their nod to return to Karnataka.

Mobile phones of the first-time MLAs have been “kept aside” to safeguard them against any poaching attempt, the sources said, reported news agencies. Union minister DV Sadananda Gowda had said on Tuesday that the BJP would stake claim to power in Karnataka if the Congress-JDS coalition government falls.Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy however reiterated he enjoyed the support of 120 MLAs and alleged that Yeddyurappa was making “futile attempts” to destabilise his government. In the 224-member Karnataka Assembly, BJP has 104 members, Congress-79, JDS 37, BSP, KPJP and Independent one each, besides the Speaker.
Meanwhile, sources said BJP’s Karnataka unit chief BS Yeddyurappa is likely to hold a meeting with the party MLAs who are camping at the resort and discuss the prevailing situation in the state.They said the 104 BJP legislators will stay put till the top leaders in the party give their nod to return to Karnataka.

History is repeating in Karnataka after 12 years. It is once again Lingayats versus Vokkaligas. HD Kumaraswamy during his first term as the chief minister had denied power to alliance partner and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa, forcing early elections to the state Assembly in 2008. The BJP went to people with “betrayal” of Lingayat stalwart Yeddyurappa by Vokkaliga leader Kumaraswamy. That strategy had paid off and the BJP rode to power with the support of five independent MLAs a few months later.

 Now, a Vokkaliga chief minister Kumaraswamy is ruling the state with the support of Congress. The Lingayat leader Yeddyurappa is making a huge effort to unseat him by poaching coalition MLAs at any cost. On the ground, it is now the turn of the Vokkaligas to accuse their traditional rivals – the Lingayats – of trying to topple a Gowda-led government in the state. And this narrative has unnerved Vokkaliga and other MLAs from old Mysore region, which is a stronghold of the Gowdas.
Together Lingayats and Vokkaligas form about 30% of state’s population and always win over 50% of the seats in any election. After the unification of Karnataka in 1956, the two most powerful castes in the state have been at loggerheads for power dividing the state on caste lines. Lingayats who claim that they are a separate religion and not Hindus have about 16%-18% population across the state. But they are dominant in north Karnataka. The Vokkaligas who constitute about 12%-13% of the population are the single largest caste in old Mysore region. The Vokkaligas have only one Mutt headed by a powerful seer.
The BJP has won a considerable number of seats from old Mysore region in the last Assembly elections and these MLAs are also worried about the backlash. The BJP won 11 seats from Bengaluru city with the as the JDS allegedly transferred a major chunk of Vokkaliga votes to them.
“It seems the ‘operation Kamala’ is dividing the state on caste lines once again. Yeddyurappa played ‘betrayal by the Vokkaligas’ card to the hilt in 2008. Now he is trying to settle score with us by unseating Kumaraswamy. We are not keeping quiet. We will definitely make it a caste issue. The BJP calls Gowdas anti-Lingayats. Why can’t we call them anti-Vokkaligas?” asked a JDS leader from Bengaluru.

The Congress is also planning to use a “Dalit” card to put the BJP on the mat. The deputy chief minister Dr. G Parameshwara is a Dalit and toppling the government will deny power to a Dalit leader is their argument. Since all BJP MLAs and other leaders are holed up at a luxury resort in Gurgaon near Delhi, no one was available for a comment.  The political analysts feel that current crisis will definitely deepen the rivalry and distrust between Lingayats and Vokkaligas who always fight for political supremacy in the state. (With Agency Inputs ).

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