The saying “For victory all are fathers and mothers, defeat remains an orphan” reflects a harsh reality. So much is the hearty welcome to this campaign and its results. There have been attempts to undermine the efforts of the civil society in defeating BJP in assembly elections. This has led to much contemplation and sharing of our experiences of Eddelu Karnataka (Wake Up Karnataka) campaign.
This is part one of a four part series.
The following aspects need to be underlined to start with. Firstly,
1. To the best of my / our knowledge, there has been no discussion or consideration regarding Eddelu Karnataka being either the cause or the primary factor behind this positive outcome.
2. It would be arrogant to claim the intervention of social forces to be exclusively attributed to Eddelu Karnataka.
3. Within the social movement of Karnataka, no one possesses the naivety to believe that the BJP has lost ground, Hindutva has retreated, and Karnataka is shielded from the perils of communalism let alone fascism.
4. No one in Eddelu Karnataka harbors the illusion that the Congress party is a viable solution or an alternative for our nation.
It is crucial to clarify that the intention behind this writing is not to just applaud the accomplishments of Eddelu Karnataka. Instead, its purpose is to impart the valuable lessons derived from this distinctive journey. In these gloomy times, where elections are engulfed by the influence of money, caste divisions, and communal politics, it raises the question: Why should social organizations engage in meaningful endeavors? The experience of Karnataka has revealed that the answer to this question lies not in a definitive solution but rather in a compass that guides our actions. Hence, it is imperative for dedicated social workers, committed to the preservation of our nation, to carefully study and reflect upon this matter. With the intention of offering possible assistance to it, I am sharing my experiences in a written form to contribute towards this cause.
Karnataka has witnessed a significant rise in communalism, prompting a strong legacy of resistance against it within the state. The Karnataka Anti-Communal Forum emerged as the most organized and enduring initiative in countering communal forces. In addition to the aforementioned efforts, several other initiatives have emerged, such as the Samana Manaskara Vedike, Samvidhana Ulivigagi Karnataka (Karnataka for Saving the Constitution, Deshakkagi Navu (We for the Country), Sahamata, Manava Bandhutva Vedike (Human Brotherhood Forum), Bahutva Karnataka (Plural Karnataka), Janapara Sanghatanegala Okkota (Union of People’s Organizations), Sahabalve (Peaceful Co-existence) and more. Furthermore, numerous left-wing, democratic, Dalit, and minority organizations have been actively resisting the oppressive influence of fascist power through their own unique approaches. In recent times, a significant number of social organizations, including farmers’ associations, women’s organizations, labor unions, and more, have taken a firm stance against these forces. As a result, the BJP and Sangh Parivar are being challenged and resisted by various social organizations in Karnataka, each employing their own distinctive methods.
Social organizations have been actively engaged in intervening in every election, and the scale and momentum of their involvement have been increasing. Now, we are able to see a significant leap in their efforts. Among the collective endeavors to counter these forces, four initiatives have emerged as particularly noteworthy in recent times.
In May 2022, pro-people forces congregated at the Udupi Peaceful Coexistence Conference and collectively arrived at the conclusion that “We must persistently strive to liberate Karnataka from the politics of hatred.”
In 2022, a large people’s congregation assembled at the Peaceful Coexistence Conference held in Udupi on May 14th.
On December 6th 2022, different factions of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS) forces joined to organize a substantial resistance conference, unequivocally proclaiming that “our primary objective is to defeat the fascist forces.”
2022 Large crowd participated in the ‘Dalit Cultural Resistance’ program held at the National College Grounds in Bangalore on December 6.
On February 16th, 2023, in Freedom park, Bengaluru, various farmers organizations, farm labor organizations, Dalit Organisations, and workers organizations, under the banner of Samyukta Horata (Joint struggle) convened a public gathering for people’s demands, and collectively resolved to “impart a fitting lesson to the anti-people BJP in the forthcoming elections.”
Numerous dedicated organizations actively took part in the central workshop held at Jai Bheem Bhawan, Bangalore on March 5th, which collectively urged for the identification of 150 committed organizers from 20 districts. They arrived at a decisive resolution under the banner of “Eddelu Karnataka” to “identify critical constituencies and immerse themselves at the grassroots level, diligently working with a well-defined plan.”
A central workshop was held at Jai Bheem Bhawan, Bangalore on 5th March.
‘Wake up’ Plan: The conclusion derived from the aforementioned workshop is that the overarching slogan of “defeating communal forces” holds limited efficacy. Instead, it is imperative to engage in efforts that directly influence the voting process.
To achieve this goal
Our focus should be directed towards assembly constituencies where there is intense competition with the BJP. Specifically, we should target constituencies where the BJP and other parties are engaged in a close contest, where the margin of victory is narrow. By strategically selecting and actively engaging in these constituencies, a mere shift of 5-10,000 votes can significantly impact the results. It is crucial to leverage our social networks and abilities to influence the outcome by targeting and influencing these specific votes. To facilitate this, dedicated teams of volunteers should be formed, and a well-planned approach should be implemented in these areas.
In the chosen constituencies, our efforts should be focused on enhancing voter turnout by fostering grassroots awareness, minimizing vote division, and persuading diverse segments of the population about the significance of defeating the BJP.
A scientifically conducted survey should be undertaken to gauge public sentiment, enabling the creation of a narrative that addresses the deeply felt concerns of the people. Extensive efforts should be made on social media platforms, along with the publication of diverse literature, to effectively disseminate this narrative.
Crucially, it is paramount that all these endeavors are conducted without accepting any financial support from any of the political parties or candidates. By ensuring an independent and ethical civil campaign, we can maintain the moral strength required to criticize all parties and communicate with the public in a selfless manner.
(Continued: Part-2: Work done by ‘Eddelu Karnataka’)