Karnataka CM Bommai meets Shah, asked to go 'aggressive' on quotas

Deccan Chronicle.  | Sanjay Basak

Nation, Current Affairs

It can be mentioned that KPCC president D.K. Shivkumar has been a strong Vokkaliga face

Kkarnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai — Twitter

New Delhi: Karnataka chief minister Basavraj Bommai, who met Union home minister Amit Shah here on Monday, is all set to go all out on the quota issue
as the Assembly elections draw near.

Stealing the thunder from the Opposition, the BJP in the state has strategically organised rallies by the Panchamasali Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities for an increase in the reservation quota. This move has stumped the Congress and the JD(S) as the protests by these two communities are now being led by BJP leaders. The chief minister is likely to take note of the demands.

Mr Bommai will also hold rallies for the SC/ST communities across the state. Mr Bommai, who was in the national capital on Monday, met Mr Shah to discuss issues related to the coming elections, due to be held by May 2023. Sources
said the chief minister has been asked to “go aggressive” on the social justice issue.

After his meeting with Mr Shah, Mr Bommai is also likely to meet BJP president J.P. Nadda while he is in New Delhi.

In a bid to stump the Opposition, the chief minister tabled a bill in the Assembly to increase reservations for Scheduled Castes from 15 per cent to 17 per cent and Schedule Tribes from three per cent to seven per cent. The Congress, waiting in the wings to dig into the Lingayat vote bank, was caught somewhat napping when, led by BJP leaders, over a lakh members of the Panchamasali Lingayat community (a sub-sect of the Lingayat group) staged a massive demonstration in Belagavi last week. It can be mentioned that to tap into the Lingayat community, the Congress got an ex-minister, Dr M.B. Patil, in the leadership panel. Dr Patil, a Lingayat, was made chairman of the Congress’ campaign committee. 

However, the ruling party seemed to be controlling the narrative with BJP leaders leading the Panchamasali Lingayat community agitation, demanding a higher share in reservations. While Lingayats constitute 18 per cent of the state’s population, the Panchamasali Lingayats comprise nearly 60 per cent of the Lingayat population. They might be able to influence over 100  seats in the Kittur Karnataka region, sources said.

Similarly, led by a senior BJP minister, the Vokkaliga community has also demanded 12 per cent reservations for admission in educational institutions and government jobs. The Vokkaligas apparently constitute 14 per cent of the state population. Incidentally, the Vokkaliga community has been one of the main vote banks of the Janata Dal (Secular) in the state. The BJP controlling the Vokkaliga narrative could deliver a body blow to both the Congress and the JD(S). It can
be mentioned that KPCC president D.K. Shivkumar has been a strong Vokkaliga face.

Driving the BJP chariot across the state, the CM has also been consolidating its position on the border dispute with Maharashtra. The Karnataka Cabinet recently approved 13 irrigation projects costing Rs 5,701.38 crores in the Bombay Karnataka region comprising Belagavi, Dharwad, Vijayapura, Bagalkot, Gagad, Uttara Kannada, and Haveri districts.