Jignesh Mevani's anti-BJP, anti-Hindutva rhetoric could be what Congress is looking for in Karnataka

Gujarat's Dalit leader and newly-elected MLA Jignesh Mevani has added another political dimension to the upcoming electoral battle in Karnataka. Urging the electorate not to vote for the BJP in upcoming polls, he declared on Monday that he will campaign against that party in the southern state.

He also implored all non-BJP Opposition parties, including the Congress, to put up a united fight in the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections.

File image of Jignesh Mewani. CNN News18

File image of Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani. CNN-News18

''In April, I'll be in Karnataka for two weeks. I will urge the 20 percent Dalits in the state that not even their 20 votes should go to them (BJP),'' Mevani said, while speaking at an event held to commemorate the 55th birth anniversary of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh.

According to a report in The Indian Express, he said that that people and politicians have to make "ideological compromises", and that "we cannot be stuck in our ideological purity", in order to protect democracy.

"I'm ready to compromise with my ideologies to save our Constitution and to keep the BJP from winning the Karnataka elections," Mevani said.

Mevani's anti-BJP stand a fillip for Congress

Karnataka is considered to be Congress' last big bastion from the bouquet of major states it once ruled and the party is trying its best to retain power there. But the recent Hindutva-based push by the BJP – employing its lead-Hindutva campaigner in Yogi Adityanath – has seen the solid foundation of the party shake, giving the Grand Old Party a run for its money.

The recent imagery of the public bickering between Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Adityanath, planted on different sides of the secular versus communal fight ensuing in the state, highlights the quandary Congress finds itself in.

As argued in an earlier Firstpost article, a fundamental difference in the way Congress is fighting the Karnataka Assembly elections to be held in March-April this year is that it has a local leader in Siddaramaiah to lead its campaign, as opposed to earlier Assembly polls.

But having a mascot ahead of the polls does little counter the caste-based electoral push of the BJP. This is where Mevani comes in.

"The fascist BJP is gaining from our ideological differences with other parties. We ought to be ready to compromise our ideology to safeguard our constitutional values. It can happen only if the BJP is ousted from power," Mevani said.

Adding that the BJP wants to distract people’s attention from real issues like jobs, minimum support price for crops, poverty and health by raising issues like cow, love jihad etc, Mevani rallied support from Dalits against the BJP. This bodes well for Congress.

The elections are likely to be held in April-May in Karnataka. The elections to the current 224-member Karnataka Assembly were held in May 2013.

With inputs from IANS

Published Date: Jan 30, 2018 14:50 PM | Updated Date: Jan 30, 2018 14:50 PM

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