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Ahead Of Polls, Karnataka Heading For ‘Battle Of Conventions’

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The Congress and the BJP are busy holding conventions to drum up support ahead of the state elections in Karnataka, due next year.  Over 1 lakh people are currently attending a massive convention of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes held by the Congress in Chitradurga district. The one-day convention is being attended by senior party leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge, Randeep Surjewala, DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah.
 
The convention comes in the backdrop of a series of BJP meets and rallies. On January 5 and 6, BJP chief JP Nadda embarked on a two-day tour of Tumakuru, Chitradurga and Davangere in a bid to reach out to various religions mutts and holding caste conventions on Backward Classes, the traditional vote bank of the Congress. The ruling party in the state has also increased quota for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes.  

The opposition is now busy re-assuring its support base.  

The SC/STs comprise 16 per cent and 6.9 per cent of the population in Karnataka, who in the last election had mostly supported the Congress.

Last week, the BJP held a massive rally of Scheduled Tribes in Ballari. In December, a rally for Other Bcakward Classes was held in Kalaburgi. A third rally will be held in Mysuru next month, meant for the Scheduled Castes.  

Recently, the BJP government in Karnataka hiked the reservation quota for the Scheduled Castes to 17% — up from 15 per cent — and for the Scheduled Tribes from 3 per cent to 7 per cent.  

The hike in quota has brought the quantum of reservations in the state way above the 50 per cent cap imposed by the Supreme Court. The total percentage of reservation in Karnataka is now 56 per cent.  

The government initially used an executive order instead of taking the legislation route. In October last year, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s cabinet took a calculated decision of passing an Ordinance on hiking the reservation for the SC/ST community.

In the last winter session, the Karnataka assembly had unanimously passed the bill.  

The Congress is now demanding that the Centre introduce this bill under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution — a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in courts.  

Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted, “Look at Delhi’s arrogant Modi government, See the corrupt Bommai government sitting in Bangalore. The loud voice of SC-ST society raised from the land of Chitradurga and victory cry to change the Bommai government! Under the leadership of @kharge ji is the resolution of the poor, take rights, will raise voice, will fight, Power will change.

देख ले दिल्ली की अहंकारी मोदी सरकार,

देख ले बैंगलोर बैठी भ्रष्ट बोम्मई सरकार,

चित्रदुर्गा की धरती से उठी SC-ST समाज की बुलंद आवाज़ और बोम्मई सरकार बदलने का विजयघोष!@kharge जी के नेतृत्व में ग़रीब का संकल्प है,
अधिकार लेंगे,
आवाज़ उठायेंगे,
संघर्ष करेंगे,
सत्ता बदलेंगे। pic.twitter.com/lWvKzE4Mvt

— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) January 8, 2023

Speaking to NDTV, Mahesh, spokesperson for the BJP, said the Congress is “losing its traditional vote bank”.

“The Congress has deprived the SC/ST community. The present generation has been betrayed by the congress. The SC/ST community has been misguided. The BJP will capitalise on this and we will get a mandate as well,” he added.

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