Rajya Sabha polls: Congress plays caste card in its nominations from Karnataka
Bengaluru: The Congress government in Karnataka named three fairly unknown state leaders—Dr. L.Hanumanthaiah, Syed Naseer Hussain and G.C. Chandrashekar—for the 23 March Rajya Sabha elections from Karnataka in what seems to be a carefully planned caste balance strategy from the party.
Hanumanthaiah is a Dalit leader and former chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, while Chandrashekhar is from the dominant Vokkaliga community. Hussain is from the minority community.
Heading into elections, the Congress has been cautious in its steps to include all communities to key posts from the state to highlight wider representation of caste groups, hoping that these groups would back the party at the polls.
The BJP nominated businessman Rajeev Chandrasekhar as its candidate from Karnataka on Sunday.
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah stormed into power in 2013 with his AHINDA (acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) support base. However, other dominant communities like the Lingayats—believed to be single largest caste group in the state—have traditionally backed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader B.S. Yeddyurappa, who also hails from the community. The Vokkaligas, another dominant caste group, is seen to side with former prime minister H.D.Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular).
The Congress nominations to the upper house on Sunday follows the same line, analysts and senior party leaders say.
A.Narayana, political analyst and professor of public policy at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, says that the Congress has always tried to balance caste equations “to prevent some rumblings in the party.”
“We can say that the Congress is playing it safe,” he said, while adding that the party, with Siddaramaiah at the helm, is unwilling to take risks and upset any particular caste groupings.
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