Kar­nataka’s dilemma: To be or not to be a part of ‘Hindi’ In­dia

The Sunday Guardian - - The Big Story - CON­TIN­UED FROM P1

cal leader whose sphere of in­flu­ence did not ex­tend be­yond his own Lin­gayat com­mu­nity. Even Yogi Adityanath proved to be a damp­ener. What kept BJP in the game were Modi’s en­er­getic ral­lies against Chief Min­is­ter Sid­dara­ma­iah’s quick coun­ters that were both witty and ag­gres­sive.

The un­der­cur­rent in Kar­nataka was: Should Kan­nada speak­ing vot­ers go for sta­tus quo by sid­ing with the Kan­nadiga Sid­dara­ma­iah, or should they opt for change and open the gates of South In­dia to a “Hindi-speak­ing” na­tion­al­ist leader who will bring in fun­da­men­tal changes once BJP gets con­trol of Kar­nataka?

The elec­tion had no pan-Kar­nataka is­sue. It wit­nessed no tsunami on the ground. Anti-in­cum­bency against Congress wasn’t there in all the re­gions. In fact, the moods and is­sues were dif­fer­ent in dif­fer­ent re­gions. But that cul­tural ques­tion per­sisted in the minds of many vot­ers: Why and how much to open up to this new BJP of Modi-Shah?

There was a large num­ber of non-Kan­nadiga, south­ern “sec­u­lar” play­ers in the field who tried to en­sure BJP’s de­feat and help Sid­dara­ma­iah. These in­clude not only lead­ers be­long­ing to Mus­lim and Chris­tian com­mu­ni­ties, but also anti-Hindi forces and po­lit­i­cal out­fits who do not want the BJP form of Hindi na­tion­al­ism in South In­dia.

Congress was a di­vided house at the top but it had CM Sid­dara­ma­iah, who dis­played enough bold­ness to counter the Modi-Shah duo in a psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare dur­ing cam­paign­ing. He worked hard to en­sure that the buzz around “anti-in­cum­bency” against his gov­ern­ment didn’t find much trac­tion. While Modi came to Kar­nataka when the “glass half empty” nar­ra­tive against his gov­ern­ment was catch­ing up due to farm­ers’ dis­tress and eco­nomic slow­down af­ter de­mon­eti­sa­tion and GST. How­ever, the larger po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural is­sues of lan­guage along with Kar­nataka’s as­mita sub­sumed the devel­op­ment and cor­rup­tion is­sues con­nected to both the Cen­tral and state gov­ern­ments.

The un­der­cur­rent in Kar­nataka was Shake­spearean for many vot­ers. To be a part of Hindi In­dia or not! Yes to the BJP of Modi-Shah will be the be­gin­ning of a new South In­dia. Yes to Sid­dara­ma­iah will be con­strued as a vote for sta­tus quo.

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