Karnataka Elections are two days away and we can see already the level of discourse going down in the election speeches where instead of issues that affect daily lives of people the leaders are talking about Ram and Hanuman.
Even though BJP has not ruled the state for long, Karnataka has been battling the saffron onslaught for decades now. After BJP came to power again in 2018 by Operation Lotus, it has been vehemently and shamelessly pushing its communal agenda making the state a communal cauldron.
Over the last two years only, BJP government in Karnataka has managed to pass most anti people bills like anti cow slaughter bill and Anti conversion bill. These bills are used to harass the minority population and there have been several cases of Muslim and Christian places of worship being vandalised and prayer meets being disturbed across Karnataka.
Last one year the state was not in news for its IT sector but for Hijab politics. Throughout the year Muslim girls were harassed and made to remove hijab to attend classes and exams. Many girls quit studies altogether.
Economic boycott of Muslim traders and violence by sangh elements were very much visible throughout social media. All this while the state was reeling from post covid economic crisis like the rest of the country. It this was not enough the government was in news for one after another scam earning the nickname of 40% commission Sarkar.
The events of last 4 years had shaken up the progressive sections of the society that has always believed in the secular syncretic traditions of Karnataka.
“Garden of peace for all races” as Karnataka was called by the many saints that have come from the states was being poisoned. Many could not believe what was happening in front of their eyes. MLAs who were bought and sold to form government. It is not chosen by the people.
What is Eddelu Karnataka?
Eddelu Karnataka or Wake up karnataka or Jaago Karnataka is a non-partisan civic campaign that was born with the bold decision to ensure that Karnataka does not fall prey to this evil plot once again.
Eddelu Karnataka is a joint platform of many individuals, organisations, civil society groups with a common aim to defeat BJP in this elections. The campaign is being led by many eminent intellectuals from the state like Purushottam Bilimale, Tara Rao, Du Sarawathi, Rahamat Tarikere, Devanur Mahadeva, G.N. Devy and AR Vasavi.
The idea of such a campaign came into being in January 2023 and by March 5th a consulting meeting was held in Bangalore which was attending by 150 organisations from 21 districts.
While intervening in the political arena as a civic forum, we have to be realistic as we, the common people, do not have many political options. Politics itself has sunk to an unprecedented low. From this, we have to find a solution based on reality. The main point is to prevent this extortionist government from regaining power. The party that gave the misrule should be defeated first. Then fight with the victors for the restoration of the people’s interests must continue – this is the only way to preserve democracy says Purushottam Bilimale.
Rejecting BJP is not enough. It is our responsibility to defeat them in such a way that they do not come to the market to buy MLAs again. Most of the people agree that this government which has brought untold suffering to the people should be removed. But who do we root for? People should vote for the candidate that can defeat BJP. If we are divided, only the party that splits us will benefit says Yogendra Yadav who has also backed the campaign.
The campaign has decided to not take financial aid from any political party and is not affiliated to any political party. We are also standing by the principles of not supporting any of the opposition parties per say but insisting that they agree to peoples major issues around and abide by them. This is a different experiment the fruits of which need to be properly assessed says Noor Sridhar.
Eddelu Karnataka has refined their demands to three principles of voting that everyone should follow:
- No vote should be wasted. Everyone must vote without fail or excuse.
- Vote should not be divided. Consultations and consensus should be built to iron out differences.
- Vote only for the candidate who can defeat BJP. No point in voting for a candidate who is unlikely to win against BJP as such a vote will only help those whom we want to defeat.
Eddelu Karnataka’s sole aim is to deliver the message “Votes should not be wasted”, “Votes should not be divided”, “Vote for the candidate who can defeat the BJP”.
The campaign if successful would be a model for other states and for the participation of civil society to participate in voter awareness and demanding opposition candidates to do better and not only rely on anti incumbency wave.
As part of the campaign, the forum has been conducting a series of zonal, district and constituency level workshop for last one month conducting almost 110 workshops. The campaign also released a booklet exposing BJP’s misrule and 2 songs for the campaign.
As part of the campaign voter awareness, enrollment of voters was of prime importance. More than 1 lakh 58 thousand voters [1,10,000 Muslims and 48,000 Christians] were reenrolled, who were missing from the voters list.
Eddelu Karnataka also received support from Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, State trade unions, Dalit Sangharsh Samiti, OBC federation, Muslim and Christian organisations and worked in coordination with the team.
Eddelu Karnataka (EK) campaign also managed to make some smaller parties and independent candidates who would act as vote splitters to sit out.