BJP projects Sriramulu as Dy CM of Karnataka
Finally, BJP projects Sriramulu as deputy CM of Karnataka. Side-stepping the consistent Congress attack that the party is carrying the taint of ‘Bellary brothers’, the BJP has sought to blunt the offensive by projecting B Sriramulu, the present MP from Bellary, as Deputy Chief Minister as the party feels he could provide traction to the party’s backward reach and wean away the traditional Congress vote bank in the State.
As the Congress questioned how the BJP could give tickets to eight of the clan of tainted mining baron Janardhana Reddy and still seek to get away with a clean image, the BJP let Sriramalu, a tribal, do the talking by naming him to to be the Deputy Chief Minister in the next BJP Government in State.
Sriramulu, a close associate of the Rs 16,000-crore illegal mining scam accused Reddy, is leader of the Valmiki Nayaka community with an estimated population of about 25 lakh people. He has been given the ticket from the reserved Molkalmuru constituency in Chitradurga district for the upcoming poll.
Tribals in Karnataka are spread over Bellary, Chitradurga, Raichur, Kopal and Mysore rural regions and constitute about seven per cent of the population. Dalits (SCs) form about 16.2 per cent of the State’s population.
In an election which is largely marked by the absence of any clear wave, the BJP is trying to scale up its vote base by bringing upfront Sriramulu, who the party feels could help the party draw Tribals and Dalits towards it.
Already , BJP leaders have deftly tried to create a rift in the Congress vote bank by suggesting that while BJP seeks to give leadership to a tribal , Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is opposed to Dalit leadership in opposing Congress Dalit leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Dr G Parameshwar, who missed the Chief Ministerial race in 2013 after he lost his Koratagere seat.
Dalit and Tribals have traditionally been voting for the Congress but in past one decade BJP has made inroads into the two vote banks. Dalits, called Left hand and also known as Madigas, generally vote for the BJP while the Congress draws support from the Chalavadi caste, described as Right hand Dalits.
This apart, BSP’s tie-up with the JD(S) would also likely to fragment Dalit votes in the State. Last time also, though the BSP did not win a seat, it received 30,000-odd votes. JD(S) leader and former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, OBC Vokkaliga leader, thinks BSP’s presence would help the party better its last record of 40 seats.
The BJP is using different campaign strategies in different parts of Karnataka to augment its vote share. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tactical remark in praising Gowda and citing Congress insult against him is aimed at further weaning away Vokkaliga votes away from the Congress in South Karnataka where the battle is primarily between the Congress and the JDS.
The BJP also hopes that it could get more than its share of seats in Southern Karnataka, particularly in Bangalore and rural Bangalore, if Vokkaligas, ‘not happy with Siddaramaiah’, shift to the BJP’s side. Vokkaligas dominate in Hassan, Chkamagaluru, Mandya, Mysuru, Ramnagar, Bangalore rural, Bangalore city (mostly South and outer Bangalore city), Tumkur and Kolar and also in some pockets in Chitradurga and Madikeri and Dakshina Kannada district.
With the region-to-region tactical change of strategies like projecting a Tribal Sriramalu as deputy to Chief Ministerial candidate Yeddyurappa, BJP hopes, could ramp up its seat share in the closely contested electoral battle as also change its image as an upper caste party among the Karnataka voters, a section of which is still sitting on the fence in the run up to the May 12 polls.
-06 May 2018 | New Delhi