Can secular politics realize the dangers of “Grassroots Hindutva” that won in Bijapur and Kollegala local elections?

The challenge of grassroots Hindutva politics cannot be defeated by top level electoral secular politics of Congress or other parties.

In the by-elections held for seven wards of Bijapur Municipal Corporation and Kollegala Municipality, BJP has achieved a comfortable victory.

The result has taken away the sense of comfort that the Bharat Jodo Yatra had created in some progressive circles  and brought ground realities to the forefront..

Bijapur is the constituency with the highest Muslim population in the entire Karnataka… But out of the 35 seats in the Municipal Corporation here, the BJP won 17 seats, while the Congress won 10 seats. BJP has never won so many seats in the history of Bijapur elections.

Kollegala is a constituency where BSP politics is deeply entrenched.. After MLA N. Mahesh left BSP and joined BJP, 7 members elected from BSP followed him and their membership was canceled due to violation of party whip. Thus, 6 out of the 7 seats in the by-elections held for the municipal council has been bagged by BJP. BSP candidates who contested in three wards in the last election got 4, 8 and 13 votes and have lost miserably.

The Congress and the BSP, which were against the BJP on both sides, have miserably failed to understand and reverse the BJP’s caste assimilation and grassroots Hindutva politics.

This is not just a victory of BJP’s money power. Nor not just the Congress-BSP defeat.
In the rumor mills of politics, fights between rival factions of the same party, compromise agreements between opposing leaders, game of compromises and betrayals among dignitaries, and the money the BJP might have showered could be among the many reasons for this victory.

However, this victory is dangerous in the long run because it is the win by “Subaltern Hindutva” strategy of the Sangh Parivar.

For example, BJP’s victory and Congress’ defeat in Bijapur Municipal Assembly, which has the highest concentration of Muslim voters in Karnataka, can also be a political forecast for the coming days.

Out of 35 seats in Bijapur Municipal Corporation, BJP contested 33 seats and Congress 35 seats. Congress had given seats to 17 Muslim candidates. But AIMIM and SDPI also fought together as Muslims in competition with Congress. AIMIM is also successful. Congress has a strong Hindu base on that side and on the other side the Muslim base has collapsed.

On the other hand, BJP has given all its seats to Hindus only. Although seats were mainly given to strong castes, in addition to that, seats were given to Madiga, Harinashikari, Mangagarodi, Ganiga, Adi Banajiga, Handewazira, and other castes which were neglected by the Congress and other parties till now.

In reserved constituencies, BJP has given one seat to Madiga community, Congress has not given any seat to Madiga community.

In the rest of the reserved constituencies, the BJP fielded candidates from the touchable community.

Many of them have won.

Those communities who have got official recognition and status for the first time can happily support caste politics and Hindutva politics of powerful castes won by BJP…

…..and can also become mediators to take their entire community to the BJP side in the upcoming Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha elections…….

In addition, the Sangh Parivar will not stop there.

Given the experience of North India, there is a long-term plan to make these communities foot soldiers of Hinduism.

The Sangh Parivar-BJP governments keeps patronizing a small group of these neglected communities financially and politically and hold it up as a role model for the community.

While the politics so far has prevented this community from even seeing a big dream, maintaining and nurturing this small strata will not be a big challenge for the BJP in the near future.

The Sangha Parivar provides a mythological and historical framework for worshiping this subordinate position in Brahmanical hierarchy without contradicting it.

In a region ruled by Muslim kings like Bijapur, the clan history will be filled with anti-Muslim baggage and make them foot soldiers of Hindutva.

Forget about Congress giving seats to these most neglected communities, so far they have been taken for granted and completely ignored.

In such a political context:

– Without commitment, engagement and leadership of an alternative political-cultural program to give political agency to these neglected communities…

-If the Congress or the social organizations in alliance with it, only talk of communal opposition… or
– If asked to vote for the parties that have ignored them till now..

They may think BJP and RSS better than all of them.
It is this “grassroots Hindutva” politics in Uttar Pradesh and North India that has given BJP votes and Hindutva fascism a strong grassroots base. It is now giving results in Karnataka too.

This is not only the success of Hindutva politics, but also the failure of Congress and other parties’ parliamentary politics and progressive movements.

The challenge of grassroots Hindutva politics cannot be defeated by top level electoral secular politics of Congress or other parties.

Equality-Empathy based Equality Movement which can forge a grassroots level awareness by bringing people together on the basis of their common issues can counter the politics of Sangh Parivar..isn’t it?

The author is a senior journalist and political observer based in Karnataka. The article is translated in English by Bharath Hebbal.

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May 2024
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