Surname Matters in Polls - The New Indian Express

Surname Matters in Polls

Published: 09th April 2014 08:15 AM

Last Updated: 09th April 2014 08:43 AM

Does adding to one’s name, either before or after, matter in elections? Yes, say political parties.

With caste playing a crucial role in politics, people like to use either the name of their caste or their families as a prefix or suffix to their names.

In Mysore, Congress leader Harsha Kumar lost from Chamaraja seat in 1985 to Kenge Gowda of the Janata Party.

 However, after he changed his name to Harsha Kumar Gowda he won the 1989 polls on a Congress ticket.

A few leaders without a caste prefix or suffix to their names have struggled to win elections.

This has not even spared BJP candidate Pratap Simha, a journalist. According to political pundits, people tend to associate themselves with a particular candidate by knowing his or her surname.

BJP leaders fear that this confusion may lead to their party’s defeat and hence have started introducing Pratap Simha as ‘Pratap Gowda’ to convince the dominant Vokkaliga voters in Mysore-Kodagu Lok Sabha constituency to vote for the BJP.

They organised a separate meeting and also felicitated Pratap Simha along with former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda to make voters know that Simha is from the Vokkaliga community. Many have used his late father Gopal Gowda’s name to familiarise him to the Vokkaliga voters and win back the fence-sitters.

A few BJP leaders in Hunsur, Periyapatna and parts of Kodagu district are taking steps to ensure that voters know the BJP candidate’s caste.

Congress candidate A H Vishwanath accused the BJP of playing the caste card ahead of the polls.

But Simha denied those charges and clarified that he could not hide his caste.

BJP spokesperson Mohan said Simha is against branding him as a Vokkaliga. However, he admitted that a few party workers were playing it up in a few pockets eyeing the Vokkaliga votes.

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