MYSURU: With the exit of BS Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister, the Lingayat-Vokkaliga political rivalry has come back to play in Karnataka politics.
The dominance of the two communities in the political landscape has been evident from the fact that they together ruled the state for 42 years, including 21 years by Veerashaiva-Lingayats.
Though leaders of BJP and JD(S) which did not have a cordial relationship after H D Kumaraswamy had refused to transfer power to Yeddyurappa in 2008 in accordance with the terms of a coalition between the two parties, they had buried the hatchet and concentrated on defeating now-former chief minister Siddaramaiah and his AHINDA leadership.
In many constituencies including Chamundeshwari, T Narasipur and Malavalli in Old Mysuru region, BJP sympathisers voted for JD(S) to defeat the Congress. But the situation has changed after the assembly elections.
Vokkaligas have been loyal to Kumaraswamy as the community saw fair chances of him becoming the Chief Minister, going by the pattern the community voted. The JD(S) grabbed the opportunity when Congress extended its unconditional support and stood united with the grand old party to bring down Yeddyurappa.
However, the state has not witnessed a cycle of power shift as leaders of many communities including Dalits who account for 24% of the population and Muslims (17%) have not enjoyed the chief ministerial positions. Though D Devaraja Urs, S Bangarappa, M Veerappa Moily, N Dharam Singh and Siddaramaiah have together ruled the state for 17 years, they could not make a come back.
BJP leader G Madhusudhan said the Congress and JD(S) formed an unholy alliance to stop a Lingayat (Yeddyurappa) from continuing as Chief Minister. The struggle to wrest power will continue and the government will be toppled at the earliest chance, he said.
Political analyst Harish Ramaswamy said Vokkaligas and Lingayats are still controlling the political space in the state. Political commentator Muzafar Asadi observed that Siddaramaiah could not reap rich dividends from AHINDA caste coalition as a majority of STs backed the BJP in central Karnataka and Dalits are fragmented. The BJP also managed woo Brahmins, Bunts and Billawas in the coastal areas, dashing the hopes of Congress. He observed that Veerashaivas, Vokkaligas, Nayakas and Brahmins worked to stop the AHINDA march in the state.