Mangaluru: Political analysts have already declared that it will be a hung Assembly in Karnataka, but BJP does not think that will be the case. National spokesperson Sambit Patra declined to quote an estimate of the seats the party sees itself winning. He said, "I leave that number to be announced and estimated by my leaders, but surely I trust the wisdom of people of Karnataka that they will see how important it is to have (a) government that is in sync with the Central government."
At a recent press conference, Patra said, "There is no rebellion in any part of the state among BJP cadres. All the candidates fielded by the central election committee of the party have been accepted by the party cadres. Our survey of the candidates has not faltered. We are now looking forward to a fruitful campaign."
The grassroots-level workers of the Sangh Parivar feel Patra and his high profile advisers specially flown in from Delhi and Gujarat are playing down the underlying rebellion which may affect the poll outcome. A senior RSS leader told this correspondent that there was a mutiny waiting to happen among the Parivar organisations, but the talks that went on last week with the observers of the Sangh Parivar from Nagpur and Vadodara have resolved issues between BJP and RSS cadres. However, some hardliners are still unrelenting. Things might unfold as the core campaigning period opens up.
Sangh workers felt the saffron party did not only deny their growth but, was also wrong in returning to giving tickets to 'tainted' MLAs and ministers from the 2008 government. They say if the party still wants to go ahead with the same faces, count them out. Some of the names they are not willing to work for are Hartalu Halappa (Sagar-Shivamogga), Raghupathi Bhat (Udupi), Reddy brothers (Bellary), MP Renukacharya (Honnali), Y Sampangi (Kolar Gold Fields), Murugesh Nirani (Biligi) and Katta Subramanya Naidu (Shivajinagar).
Sampangi was convicted by the Lokayukta in a bribery case just months before the 2013 elections. His mother Y Ramakka is the incumbent MLA from Kolar Gold Fields. Owing to the internal pressure after giving a ticket to Sampangi this time, the third list of candidates saw S Ashwini replacing her father.
Both BJP and RSS issued whips that nobody should air dissent in public or in the media, but their complaints have gone beyond the point of moderation. We cannot expect our workers to be coaxed into going beyond their convictions, noted a leader of RSS on condition of anonymity.
"Are some families made to rule this country? Why did the BJP not find a fresh candidate away from the Sampangi family? If BJP also follows the 'hereditary rule' factor then what is the difference between Congress and BJP?" asked Munirathnam Naidu, a senior ex-BJP worker who had been supporting Y Sampangi since the day he joined politics. He has now joined the Congress.
Sampangi said he is sure his daughter will win the election with a good margin. "Testimony of her popularity is that she had won in the zilla panchayat elections against the kin of a very influential Congress leader in the state. You may remember even my mother Ramakka has won from the KGF seat, which means people are supportive of my candidature directly or indirectly."
He assured that during his mother's tenure as an MLA, he did not ask for any favours. "She was as independent as an MLA could be. Just because candidates belong to my family, can they be divested from exercising their fundamental right to contest in an election, which is given to them by the Constitution?"
'These are organisation matters'
Another reason for distress among party workers stems from the selection of candidates who are not from the promised lot of Sangh Parivar workers. Satyajit Surathkal, a long-time worker of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, was denied ticket to contest from Mangaluru North constituency. "He had been at the forefront of unification of votes for BJP in the North constituency for over 20 years," said Ramachandra Shastry, an elder of the constituency.
Suranthkal said the party had assured him for the last three elections that he will be given a ticket to contest from North. "But even this time, they did not keep the promise. At least, they should make me the district president of the BJP and show that they do care for the Sangh Parivar workers. Now that district president Sanjeev Matandoor has been given a ticket to contest from Puttur constituency, the party should stick to the 'one-man-one-post' norm just like the Congress has done," said Surathkal.
In the case of Udupi, the screening committee had nominated three names for the seat. But after their last option, Raghupathi Bhat, got the ticket, the members of Sangh Parivar were as uncomfortable as the BJP district unit itself. Then MLA Bhat had withdrawn his candidature for 2013 state elections after a clip of him with an unidentified woman was aired by TV channels.
The chief of RSS in Karnataka, Prabhakar Kalladka Bhat, is not vocal about the issue. He said, "These are organisational matters which could be resolved by taking a hard look at the stark realities, which has been conveyed to the last man in the cadres."
Sudhir Shenoy, another senior RSS leader of the coast, is more critical. "We were under the impression that BJP wanted to field candidates with a clean history after painting the Opposition as a party with questionable background. But what we are doing here is nothing short of what our opponents are doing."
M Raghuram is a Mangaluru-based freelance writer and a member of 101reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters
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Updated Date: Apr 30, 2018 20:02:19 IST