How ‘AHINDA leader’ Siddaramaiah has become key for Congress in South
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah's popularity has travelled beyond the state's borders | File photo

How ‘AHINDA leader’ Siddaramaiah has become key for Congress in South

While implementing the five poll guarantees has increased his popularity, his grip over the regional AHINDA communities has added to his stature as mass leader

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Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, credited with rallying AHINDA (Minorities, Backward Classes and Dalits) voters around to ensure victory for the Congress in the state, has emerged as a favourite choice of the Congress high command to be the party’s star campaigner in the upcoming Telangana Assembly elections.

The five poll guarantees, which Siddaramaiah successfully implemented in the state, have earned him admiration not only among the masses of Karnataka but also in other states in the south, which want to replicate his “Five Guarantees” model. Congress president Mallikarjuna Kharge and other senior leaders want to use his pro-people image to the party’s benefit in the state elections, which are around the corner.

After Ramakrishna Hegde and HD Deve Gowda, former chief ministers of Karnataka, political observers say Siddaramaiah is becoming influential in South India. Hegde, for instance, influenced former Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu through his connections with top leaders like NT Rama Rao and M Karunanidhi.

By participating in several backward classes and Kuruba rallies in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu earlier, Siddaramaiah has earned himself the image of a popular leader among AHINDA voters there. His Janata Dal roots are also helping him grow in influence in these parts.

What is AHINDA?

Realising his popularity among AHINDA voters, the Telangana unit of the Congress is keen to have Siddaramaiah’s presence during the upcoming elections and the party high command has asked Siddaramaiah to actively participate in the Congress election campaign in Telangana, said a close confidant of the chief minister.

The Congress is planning to announce guarantee schemes in Telangana in the presence of Siddaramaiah, who is expected to explain to the Telangana voters how the Karnataka government is implementing the schemes in a phased manner and how people there have welcomed it. Siddaramaiah, who attended the CWC meeting in Hyderabad, has also been given the additional task of rallying AHINDA voters around the Congress in Telangana. The party is seeking his advice on how to consolidate AHINDA votes and ways to formulate similar ‘guarantee schemes’ for the benefit of the Telangana people, which would pave the way for Congress victory in elections.

AHINDA (Alpasankhyataru Hindulidavaru Dalitaru) is a Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes, and Dalits. The phrase was first coined by Devaraj Urs.

A pan-South leader among AHINDA

Siddaramaiah, a Kuruba leader, is famous in the bordering districts of Telangana where the Kurubas consider him their leader. Siddaramaiah has supporters from the AHINDA groups in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. He also enjoys a good rapport with Kuruba and other AHINDA leaders of Telangana and have attended several rallies. It is no surprise then that the Telangana OBC communities in the bordering districts, including the Kurubas, are his ardent followers.

It is obvious that Siddaramaiah is also seen as a pan-South leader whose popularity travels far beyond the borders of Karnataka.

The Congress has planned a Kuruba rally in Hyderabad on October 10 where Siddaramaiah will be the chief guest. A huge rally of Backward Class communities in the last week of October is also on the card, which Siddaramaiah is expected to lead, a senior Congress leader said.

“Siddaramaiah will be one of the star campaigners for the Congress, and he will address a minimum of five election rallies to seek votes for the party,” the Congress leader further said.

In fact, the party high command plans to gain power state by state by showcasing the 'Karnataka Model' with its guarantee schemes and strategically using Siddaramaiah’s AHINDA formula.

How other states are vying to replicate his model

Siddaramaiah has successfully rolled out the five guarantees, part of the Congress's poll promise, in a phased manner. This has not only earned him popularity among the masses but has also drawn the attention of other state governments. For instance, the DMK government in Tamil Nadu, which will have elections in December this year, is trying to replicate the Karnataka Model to retain power.

The leader, who is famous for attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is admired by anti-BJP politicians in both South and North India.

Meanwhile, the Shepherds India International has announced that it will felicitate Siddaramaiah for becoming chief minister twice, during its ninth national conference to be held on October 2 and 3 in Belagavi, Karnataka. According to its vice-president HM Revanna, Kurubas from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Maharashtra will participate in the conference.

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