The die is caste as Siddu starts playing with fire

P.M. VIJENDRA RAO writes: Well, the reason politicians are there is to divide people. And, the reason the people are there is to get divided and throw their lot behind the divider belonging to their own caste denomination. The by-elections to the Chamundeshwari Assembly constituency provided abundant proof of that.

H.D. Kumaraswamy, his appa, his anna and his ministerial colleagues belonging to all castes and sub-castes swooped down on Mysore. With the single-mindedness of a sharp-shooter, the brigade went about poisoning the constituency with anti-Siddaramaiah feeling.

“You are with them or with us,” was the kind of message that was driven into the heads of the Vokkaliga community.

A few Vokkaligas who had received favours from Siddaramaiah and sung his praise, voted against him. So bitter was the campaign that the vicharavadis of Mysore, for whom supporting the Janata Dal had become second nature, took up cudgels against Kumaranna.

Damage that the former prime minister-tutored son was creating in the constituency would remain for years after the election managers left, they thought and campaigned in favour of Siddaramaiah, the undisputed leader of the Kuruba community, unmindful of his affiliation being to the Congress, their enemy number two after the BJP. (The vicharavadis deserve every decent man’s praise for this grand stand they adopted).

But, what does Siddaramanna do? Drive a punch into the face of M. Mahadevu, the senior Congress leader from the temple town of Nanjangud. He brushed aside Vasu, the former mayor who tried to intervene, thus earning the wrath of the Vokkaliga community, again, which was prompt to see the insult to their leader.

Mahadevu, with the prefix of “Benki” is not the other name for restraint. We know what animus he has had against former minister V. Sreenivasa Prasad, especially after the retaliation against the Veerashaiva community by the Dalits for the infamous Badanawalu killings of the nineties.

So, we have the Kurubas pitted against the Gowdas; the Veerashaivas, already aligned against the Dalits, now seething with range against the Kurubas; the Gowdas against the Kurubas.

To think that all these are numerically high and politically powerful communities in Karnataka.

Is there any hope of development at all in this region? Who will come to the rescue of the common folk of all these castes and others—Chamundeshwari? Srikanteshwara? Adi Keshava? Lord Gangadhareshwara? Mantelingaswamy?

We need visionary leaders, please. Any ugly behaviour by any leader is simply unacceptable. Not just to the community of the man affected by such behaviour.

Incidents such as Sunday’s are a slur on democracy and civil society. They must be condemned by one and all. Political parties must act ruthlessly against misdemeanour. The police, known to be the handmaidens of their political masters, must change, too. These incidents are causing incalculable harm to the oneness of our society.

We talk of Hindu-Muslim polarization in Modi‘s Gujarat? What is this? In our own backyard?

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu