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Panelists feel parties are leaving nothing to chance in Karnataka, and are making moves in view of all possible scenarios

Post polling in Karnataka, political pundits are busy sifting through the findings of various exit polls. A day after exit polls predicted a hung assembly in the state, chief minister Siddarammiah created ripples by stating that he was ready to step aside if the party leadership wished to replace him with a Dalit. APN’s popular debate Mudda discussed the issue with panelists including Dalit affairs expert Anup Shramik, BJP’s Dinesh Singh, Congress’s Raju Vadhmare, senior journalist NK Singh, national affairs expert Haseeb Siddiqui and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Anchorperson Anant posed the first query to Vadhmare, who said the Congress is confident of getting majority. He said that the Siddarammiah has simply reiterated the fact that the Congress is sensitive to the Dalits.

NK Sing said: “No party can boast of a majority right now. Tomorrow, there could be reason for the parties to look for tie-ups. I don’t think any party is getting absolute majority. Dalit chief minister issue has been raked up due to the general elections in 2019. When Modi praised Deve Gowda (Siddarammiah’s bête noire), Muslims felt sidelined, and that was a huge blunder.”

Dinesh Singh said:”The BJP is on a firm ground. Karnataka people know the real face of Congress, and that it is not really with the Dalits as it proclaims.”

Shramik said: “The BJP has 15 CMs, three deputy CMs, and not one is a Dalit, so obviously Dalit issue has been raked up as a populist measure. In MP, Rajasthan, UP, Dalits are the most victimsed.”

Dinesh Singh said: “This is not fair, the BJP has the maximum number of Dalit leaders.

Raju said:”JD-S role will not be needed, if the BJP or the Congress gets a clear verdict. But if that is not so, Siddarammiah and Gowda have had a troubled relationship. So Siddaramiah would not like to see Gowda, which is why he proposed that a Dalit leader will be welcome to him as CM; this way he has opened the door to hold talks with the JD-S.”

Siddiqui said:”It looks like the Congress is preparing for any eventuality, and will decide the course depending upon the final verdict. BJP and Congress are eyeing 2019 polls, and that will be the deciding factor which way the parties go.”

When asked about the anti-incumbency factor by Anant, Vadhmare said that the “it is the BJP who needs to fear anti-incumbency, and not the Congress”.

NK Singh said: “Opposition unity is being developed. Congress has opened the way for a Dalit CM. But the Congress and JD-S votebank is overlapping. On the other hand, if JD-S goes with the BJP, it may lose the Muslim votebank.”

Dinesh Singh said: “The BJP will not need support from any party, it is sure to make the government. Exit polls show a good win for the BJP. None of the BJP’s candidate is tainted, which is why it stands on a good wicket.”

NK Singh said: “Looks like JD-S and BJP have steered a possible pact. South Indian polls have always seen leaders trying to woo people with cheap rations, TVs etc.”

Why Congress played Lingayat card? asked Anant.  Vadhmare said:”Lingayat minority status issue was always with the Congress. It has been discussed since the past five years. Now Congress has decided to fulfill the Lingayat demand.”

Siddiqui said:”PM Modi is targeting Rahul Gandhi in every speech, so we can’t ignore the fact that the BJP finds Rahul Gandhi a tough opponent.”

Raju said: “Even in UP, Akhilesh Yadav had announced before the polls (with a clear eye to woo voters), to get additional castes under the quota umbrella. Congress has played along similar lines regarding the Lingayat issue.”

NK Singh said:”In Indian polls, identity groups are created to catch the votebank, like in UP, Akhilesh proposed the mahadalits issue. Mutts will also be influencing the outcome of the polls. Around 20 percent Lingayats in Karnataka can also affect a decisive shift, and will help the BJP.”

Shramik said:”BJP has failed its promises. Development is always given the short shrift in Indian politics.”

Raju said: “Congress win will boost the party’s confidence in a big way. If BJP comes to power, it will be huge setback to Congress.”

—Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari

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