Can Karnataka have a Brahmin Chief Minister? If you leave it to Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leader and former Chief Minister HK Kumaraswamy, this will not be possible, at least as far as the BJP is concerned.
Indeed, HDK, as Kumaraswamy is widely known, has gone so bitterly hammer and tongs at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the issue, that it has created confusion in its ranks and also forced it to hit back viciously at the JD-S.
HDK’s main targets are Union Minister Pralhad Joshi and BJP General Secretary B L Santosh, both Brahmins and whose names have come to the fore since B S Yeddyurappa quit as Chief Minister.
In Karnataka’s caste-ridden politics, the Vokkaligas, Lingayats and Backward Classes are always demanding that one of their leaders should become the Chief Minister.
Karnataka has had two Brahmin Chief Ministers too: Ramakrishna Hegde from Janata Party and R Gundu Rao from Congress.
Earlier, the late HN Anantha Kumar’s name too cropped up. Even former Union Minister and MP Anantkumar Hegde’s name was also proposed in party circles.
Now that the BJP is toying with the idea, HDK – a foe-turned-friend-turned-foe of BJP, has launched a blitzkrieg against Brahmin domination.
Kumaraswamy is focussing on Joshi’s origin from a Marathi clan. It was his way of hitting back after Joshi commented on the JD-S’ Pancharatna Yatre.
Calling Joshi is a “’blue-eyed boy of the Sangh Parivar”, HDK said. “He belongs to the Brahmin community which split the Sringeri Mutt. He belongs to the Maratha Peshwa community that damaged the Sringeri Mutt. It is the same community which assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.
HDK went on: “BJP will make Pralhad Joshi a Chief Minister in the coming days. Joshi is not like the Brahmins of the South.”
He also attacked BJP. “Look at every incident that happened in our state in the last three years. What is the relationship between Karnataka and Savarkar? Savarkar’s photo was also put up in Suvarna Soudha. Now the BJP is going to impose a person of Marathi Peshwa origin who oppressed Kannadigas, attacked the Sringeri Mutt, assassinated Gandhiji.
“The question is whether a person with the DNA of Peshwas who attacked Karnataka and attacked Kannada heritage and culture should become the Chief Minister. Who broke the Sringeri Chandramouleshwara Temple? Who killed Gandhiji? I told them that they all belong to the Peshwa family, from where Pralhad Joshi originates. Our Brahmin people say ‘Sukhino Bhavantu’. But the Peshwa Brahmins curse ‘Sarvanasho Bhavantu’,” he said.
Challenge to BJP
He challenged the BJP to declare Joshi the Chief Ministerial candidate and go to the polls.
If the BJP thought that Kumaraswamy’s was a momentary reaction, it soon realized that his aggression was here to say. Sadly, the BJP’s counter attack is not working.
BJP sources admitted the JD-S leader’s comment has created ripples in the party. It has also led to confusion over the Chief Minister candidate. Also, the emotive Kannada identity has come to play a major role.
BJP leaders are neither in a position to accept or reject the HDK charge. Though the party has asked its cadres to attack Kumaraswamy over his ‘caste’ politics, it is in a fix to comment on the Brahmin Chief Minister issue.
A senior leader in the BJP told The Federal: “The HDK statement has spoiled the possibility of a Brahmin Chief Minister and will create confusion among the Lingayat voters too.”
As BSY’s leadership is fading, the Lingayat community is trying to find out another leader from the community in the BJP.
Incumbent Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has not achieved a similar stature though he is from the same community. There are leaders including Jagadish Shettar, Aravinda Bellada and Basanagouda Patil Yatnal. The HDK’s comment has created more gaps.
The BJP is trying to shift Vokkaligas towards the JD-S as the Congress and its state chief DK Shivakumar is creating a base in the Old Musuru region. This will harm the BJP if it doesn’t cross the magic number after the election.
Until recently, the BJP had avoided attacking the JD-S. Now the election strategy has almost changed. The BJP has decided to attack both the Congress and JD-S.
Disagreeing with HDK
Yet, there are some who do not agree with HDK’s line of thinking.
What can Pralhad Joshi can do if Godse or Peshwa hailed from the same community, a leader with the JD-S asked.
Added a former JD-S leader now with the Congress: “There are so many Chitpavan Brahmins including Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Acharya Vinobha Bhave whose contribution to the nation is remarkable.”