So, you think 21st century elections are all about development, ‘post-identity’ issues?

Manufactured WhatsApp messages, in a relentless drive to brainwash uncritical masses to the dominant theology, try to convince you that India has gone past identity politics.

They claim that elections in today’s India are all about “development agenda”, about ‘vikas’, as if people in the past never had aspirations.

Well, think again.

The temple-town of Nanjangud and neighbouring Gundlupet in “developed” southern Karnataka are going in for by-elections on Sunday, April 9.

The following headlines from just two days of newspapers show that the electoral reality on the ground is far removed from superficial debates in TV studios.

Parties continue to tap the tribal, herd-like instincts in people and issues like discrimination, social ostracism still strike a chord.

# Former CM B.S. Yediyurappa addresses meeting of Madiwala community members

# Congress president K. Parameshwar campaigns in Uppar-dominated areas

# All communities, including Muslims and Dalits, support BJP, says leader of opposition K.S. Eswarappa

# Industries minister R.V. Deshpande and Congress working president Dinesh Gundu Rao seek Brahmin support

# Social welfare minister H. Anjaneya urges Madiga community to support Congress

# Let BJP name a Dalit as party president, says transport minister Ramalinga Reddy

# Kumbar community leaders join Congress ahead of by-poll

# Vishwakarma (jewel craft ) leader K.P. Nanjundi urges community folk to vote for Congress

Etcetera

On top of these micro messages to ghetto-ised constituents, caste remains the overwhelming theme if not the dominant undercurrent in both constituencies.

If it is Dalits in Nanjangud, a reserved constituency, in Gundlupet it is Lingayats, and the choice of candidates of Congress and BJP leaves little to the imagination.

The fact that the Vokkaliga-dominated JDS is not contesting in either constituency shows how elections are fought even today.