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Karnataka Elections: Madigas, Veerashaiva Lingayats Demand Representation from Parties

The communities are demanding election tickets for Bengaluru Urban from all parties and have warned that parties who show indifference would ‘pay a price’.
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Bengaluru: Voting for 224 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka will be held in a single phase on May 10 and the votes will be counted on May 13. The last date to file the nominations is April 20, as per the Election Commission (EC).

The Indian National Congress has already announced the first list of 124 candidates. Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will contest from Varuna (Mysore district) and his rival for the CM’s post, DK Shivakumar, will contest from Kanakapura (Ramanagara district). The party has also announced candidates in 17 out of the 28 Assembly constituencies in Bengaluru Urban district. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not yet released a list of candidates. 

In the midst of this, various communities have begun jostling for representation. The Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha has expressed its disappointment in the Congress for not giving the community any representation in the 17 Bengaluru urban constituencies. In a press release, the organisation notes: “the Veerashaiva Lingayat community has a decisive presence in 17 assembly segments in Bengaluru city. Despite this, the Congress party has failed to give tickets to any Veerashaiva Lingayat in the city list of candidates. The community has disapproved of this neglect. We demand at least four tickets for our community from the Bengaluru Urban district. Meanwhile, the BJP is yet to publish its list. We demand four tickets from the BJP and the JD(S) as well. The parties who show indifference to the community will pay the price.”

The Karnataka Bahujana Samithi, an organisation that claims to represent the (left-hand) Scheduled Castes (SCs) has also warned the Congress party to field more of their candidates rather than the right-hand SC communities. Left and Right are categories within the SC list. The left is known to be numerically stronger than the right. The two categories are political rivals. In a press release, the samithi demanded that all four reserved seats in Bengaluru Urban district should go to the SC left community candidates.

Internal Reservation of Scheduled Castes 

Under the leadership of Mandakrishna Madiga, the members of the Madiga dalit community have also been demanding internal reservations in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Madigas are traditional leather workers who have also been employed in manual scavenging. The Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS) is a force to reckon with in the Telugu-speaking states.

Last week, several prominent members of the Madiga community were inducted into the Congress party in Karnataka. Shortly after, the BJP government announced the internal reservation policy. In Karnataka, Madigas had argued that Lambanis (Banjaras) and Bhovis were cornering the SC reservation. Following this, protests were held across Karnataka. Some anxious protestors even resorted to stoning the house of BHP leader and former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa in Shivamogga. 

At a press conference in Bengaluru on March 29, Narsappa Dandora, state president of the Madiga Meesalati Horata Samiti (Madiga reservation struggle committee) said, “the Madiga community thanks the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government for introducing internal reservation in the state. This was a 28-year struggle which finally bore fruit. The community will stand with the BJP during the upcoming elections as a show of gratitude towards the party which has done justice towards us.”

A press release from the organisation also condemned the members of the Banjara community for pelting stones at Yediyurappa’s house.

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