Wake up, Karnataka! How voters are fighting hate speech with harmony

Hundreds of youths working with different organisations are going door to door and speaking against growing polarisation in Karnataka. Photo: iStock

Sarovar Benkikere, 21, is as busy as any politician running an “election campaign” in poll-bound Karnataka. The engineering graduate from Bengaluru’s Dr Ambedkar Institute of Technology clarifies that he is neither a politician nor associated with any political party. Unlike a traditional poll campaign, where contesting candidates and their followers urge people to vote for them, Benkikere’s “fight is against hate politics and political apathy towards the disadvantaged sections of society”. His work sets him apart from politicians, he says.

Since last month, Benkikere and hundreds of young volunteers are travelling across the southern state as they promote communal harmony. The volunteers are pushing a youth-led initiative under the aegis of Eddelu Karnataka (Wake up, Karnataka) — a people’s movement.

Karnataka is going to polls on May 10 to elect 224 members for its legislative assembly. Political observers say the southern state under the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) administration has witnessed an astronomical rise in hate politics. From hijab ban to the anti-conversion bill, one after another incident indicating the BJP’s intolerance and bigotry towards minorities hogged the limelight, says a senior political analyst, who did not want to share his name.

The latest among the many is the scrapping of four per cent OBC (other backward classes) reservation for Muslims.

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