Opinion Op Ed 06 Aug 2017 State of play: How n ...
Neena Gopal is Resident Editor, Deccan Chronicle, Bengaluru

State of play: How not to create a Vokkaliga icon in 3 days!

Published Aug 6, 2017, 6:09 am IST
Updated Aug 6, 2017, 7:17 am IST
The BJP’s other target, Karnataka, the last of the handful of Congress ruled states.
D.K.Shivakumar
 D.K.Shivakumar

The 72 hour IT raids. It should have been the masterstroke! The one swift, single slice that emasculates the opponent, stops him in his tracks, unable to make a move. Chop, chop!   

But a word to the wise… What works in Lucknow and Patna, a DeMo that takes the black money out of the equation ahead of a poll or breaking Nitish out of the ‘gathbandhan’, and the political skullduggery that is par for the course in the distant reaches of our far flung nation, doesn’t necessarily work here in our backyard. And certainly, not with D.K.Shivakumar. Consummate politician, survivor of numerous battles to tie him down, he’s bounced back every time after hitting rock bottom. 

 

Remember how cast down he was, when he lost out on becoming KPCC chief only weeks ago?  Over the last 72 hours, he’s risen from the ashes, meta-morphed seamlessly from shamed, dirty politician to victim, and has already begun to unashamedly milk this particular episode in his chequered career, for everything its worth. 

Allowed to finally leave his home on Saturday, he was swanning it outside Raj Bhavan, and at the Gandhi statue, brazenly chanting the apostle of non-violence’s fave Raghupati Raghava bhajan, before he headed back to the resort with all 44 Gujarat MLAs chanting ‘Jai ho, Shivakumar’ as he went back to openly flaunting his role as their protector  the reason that many believe, he was targeted with the raids, in the first place! 

I for one don’t believe it stops with the Rajya Sabha poll but has everything to do with removing the Bengaluru moneybags from the Gujarat poll equation where Shankarsinh Vaghela notwithstanding, the BJP minus the sharp governance of Narendra Modi isn’t on the strongest of wickets. Taking it further, the BJP’s other target, Karnataka, the last of the handful of Congress ruled states, that is now heading for possible early polls where the head of the poll committee is you guessed it Mr. D.K.Shivakumar. The BJP couldn’t afford another Nanjangud and Gundlupet where they projected bypoll victories based on B.S. Yeddyurappa’s mobilization of the Lingayat vote only to have DK steal it from under their nose.

Either way, before you finish reading this column, the man may have probably landed in the lion’s den of Ahmedabad, with the MLAs in tow, flying out overnight in a chartered flight, 24 hours before the crucial Rajya Sabha vote that the Congress bigwigs want won for their own man Ahmed Patel, pitted against the BJP’s two top honchos, master strategist Amit Shah and the politically savvy information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani.

Messing with that? Ooh, that had to be DkShi’s undoing. Except, this could be the point of no return for the BJP, and the turnaround for the Congress’ ‘go to guy’.  

Here’s why. Not so difficult to bounce back for someone who, people say, started at the very bottom of the heap, delivering milk to people’s doorsteps when he was a boy growing up in Sathnur. He went on from that early mapping of rural Bengaluru to becoming a student leader in the city who tapped into the violent underbelly of politics and business with ease, using every connection, dubious or otherwise, from caste and community, across parties, to further his political ambitions as he climbed the political ladder.   

The shrill rhetoric on our television channels that has cast every aspersion possible at the man, from ownership of benami properties, and fronting businesses and secret bank accounts at home and abroad, FEMA violations, have remained just that! Aspersions. Karnataka’s Panama.  What about the cash you ask? The crores found in an apartment in Delhi? The crores found here in the city? Well, beyond the handout pictures of bags stuffed with cash, we in the press haven’t seen, touched or smelled it yet. Where’s the diary, the warrant that Shivakumar supposedly tore up? Where’s the Panchanama? An IT raid that goes on for three days, at over 60 locations and the man hasn’t been arrested yet, or thrown into jail?  

 As he all but crowed to the television cameras, “panchanama bandmele, naanu mathadthini…” 

There’s one other point. In the BJP’s grand calculus wrought in Delhi, the anger over the role DK plays in Karnataka politics being extended to Gujarat may have made him a prime target for the kind of treatment that ran the likes of Suresh Kalmadi and D. Raja out of politics. 

But contrast the noise in the media with the deafening silence from the BJP’s Vokkaliga leaders and you will see what I’m getting at – the harassment of a Vokkaliga in a Vokkaliga dominated city like Bengaluru is nothing short of … well, for the want of a better term, not very smart. 

Bengaluru Rural is a magnet for all the smaller rural conclaves that ring the IT capital, with Vokkaligas gravitating to the Mecca of business from Kanakpura and Channapatna, Mysuru and Mandya, Hassan and Magadi. DK’s constituency Bangalore Rural is a mix of Muslims, Kurubas and Vokkaligas. Bangalore urban’s upmarket Rajajinagar that has voted over and over for the BJP’s Mr. Clean Suresh Kumar is a Vokkaliga dominated seat. 

The silence of the BJP’s Vokkaliga leaders barring Tejaswini Gowda is telling; As was the visit to the power minister’s home of the Vokkaliga party JD(S)’ rebel leaders, Cheluvarayaswamy and Magadi MLA Balakrishna Gowda and five others. 

 This is the city that sent three BJP MPs to parliament and won 12 of the 28 assembly seats in the city for the BJP. All on the back of a solid Vokkaliga vote that the BJP does not make a song and dance about, focused as they are on Mr. Yeddyurappa’s not inconsiderable clout with the Lingayat maths in the rest of the state, that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is undeniably trying to mess with, by sowing this division in the Lingayat camp. 

 I wouldn’t bet on it, but the masterly poll-winning strategies that now has the BJP in control of 18 states in the country, may just have hit a brick wall in caste driven Karnataka with the move to target the only Vokkaliga leader of some standing in the state, outside the H.D.Deve Gowda family pantheon, going sideways. 

And jail or no jail,  it wasn’t even the Congress, reluctant to give him any such tag, that’s made him into a Vokkaliga icon, it’s the BJP. In the span of three short days. 

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