Editorial: Politics of quota in Karnataka

Editorial: Politics of quota in Karnataka

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, March 27, 2023, 08:35 PM IST
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Representative Image | File

In a move clearly aimed at the ensuing election in Karnataka, the state government has scrapped the existing 4% quota for Muslims in order to benefit the powerful Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities. The minorities will now be accommodated in the 10% reserved for economically weaker sections where they will have to battle for their share of the pie with several other groups such as Brahmins and Jains. The 4% earlier reserved for minorities will now be equally distributed between the Vokkaligas and Lingayats. The former already has 4% while the latter has 5% reservation. With elections just about a month away this move of the Basavaraj Bommai government has invited the wrath of the Opposition and the Muslim community which have termed it a bid to polarise the electorate. The BJP on its part has justified the move trotting out its standard charge of minority appeasement by the erstwhile Congress government which had introduced the quota in the first place and citing BR Ambedkar’s opposition to reservation on the basis of religion.

The BJP is desperate to retain Karnataka as is evident from the number of visits Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made to the state this year while harping on the benefits of a ‘double engine sarkar’. The state government has little to show by way of achievements given the crumbling infrastructure in the state and the general perception of corruption and inefficiency surrounding it. So far the electoral edge has been with the Congress, according to various surveys. However, the quota move may well be the masterstroke that will ensure the BJP’s success at the hustings as it will blunt the ire of the Vokkaligas and Lingayats who have been unhappy over the reservation issue. It is very clear that the BJP’s electoral pitch aims at wooing them and the scheduled castes. The Muslims clearly do not matter in the party’s scheme of things. With elections in Karnataka due to be announced any day, it remains to be seen if the campaign blitz planned for PM Modi and Amit Shah and the slew of infrastructure projects announced in the last few days will help the BJP get over the finish line. The Karnataka verdict is crucial as it will determine if the Opposition’s united face against the government over the alleged misuse of investigative agencies and the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as Lok Sabha MP has any resonance with voters or whether the BJP’s poll juggernaut will roll on unhindered.

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