Mangaluru: Victory celebrations by BJP workers in view of the astounding poll percentage registered by party candidates in Lok Sabha elections have evidently masked a surge in support for Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), an entity which has succeeded in notching a two-fold increase in the number of votes polled in the coastal region.
Candidates of SDPI did not enter the fray during Assembly elections in 2018 as part of their strategy to support secular parties. The SDPI, however, changed its stand and decided to field state unit president Mohammed Eliyas in Dakshina Kannada during general elections in 2019. Mr Eliyas secured 46, 839 votes as against 27, 254 votes garnered by Mr Haneef Khan Kodje in 2014.
The percentage of votes has increased from 2.26 to 3.48 over the last five years. “We have secured expected number of votes in Dakshina Kannada during this election. Those who are unhappy with communalism of the BJP and the betrayal of Congress have voted for us,” says Athavulla Jokatte, district unit president of SDPI.
Meanwhile, Federation of Muslim Organisations president K Ashraf agreed that a good number of minorities, who are unhappy with Congress, have supported SDPI.”The support to SDPI increased especially in Mangaluru constituency (U T Khader) and Bantwal. Minorities have expressed their unhappiness there,” he said. Alarmed over the growing support base of SDPI, Congress leaders are contemplating measures to prevent diversion of traditional votes of the party to SDPI. “The party has to work on this. It is our vote which is now being diverted to SDPI. Minorities are moving towards SDPI. The leadership has to take cognizence of this situtation and ensure that our traditional votes are not diverted to others,” said a senior Congress leader.