CHURUMURI POLL: Karnataka, a ‘Hindutva Lab’?

The first indication that ties between the BJP and the JDS were reaching a point of no return came a couple of months ago, when Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said that his party’s tieup with the BJP had cost it its “secular image“. And now in a parting shot of sorts, H.D. Deve Gowda has accused the sangh parivar outfits of turning Karnataka into a “Hindutva laboratory on the lines of Gujarat“. The Bharatiya Janata Party has of course termed the charge as “absurd” but surely the label must rankle, especially with the CM drawing attention to the violence in Mangalore, the Datta peeta row at the Baba Budan giri in Chikamagalur, and the bus burning incident in Bangalore over the Ram sethu.

Questions: Is the JDS desperately indulging in post-facto rationalisation to justify the breakup of its marriage or has Karnataka—the BJP’s self-proclaimed “Gateway to the South”—really been a Hindutva experiment? Is the BJP’s rise in the State, especially in the coastal belt, largely a result of its communal mobilisation or has the party struck a genuine chord among the urban masses, as evidenced by its impressive showing in the 2004 assembly elections and now in the local body elections? Will the JDS manage to retrieve lost “secular” ground by now tar-brushing its partner or will the circumstances of the breakup help the BJP in future elections?