Congress may be slowly losing its AHINDA vote bank

BENGALURU: Given the voting patterns in the recent assembly elections, Congressmen, both dissenting as well as those serving as ministers, are of the opinion that the AHINDA (an acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) vote bank, so far considered loyal to the Congress and especially to former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, is slowly slipping away due to the BJP’s attempts at consolidating backward class sub-castes as well as Congress mismanagement.

Talking about the elections, a senior Congress leader explained that the party lost out on ST-Left votes and that except for Kurubas, no other backward classes had voted in consolidation for them this time. “Our only saving grace was a consolidation of Muslim votes and votes from economically weaker sections of society on class lines more than caste lines,” the leader said.

Disappointment against the party exists among the Lingayats as well, as leaders point out that a correct comparison of the Congress performance this year must be made with 2008 elections since the BJP-KJP split in 2013 benefited the party that year. “In comparison to 2008, we have gained 11 seats this time in North Karnataka. Despite this, representation from the region is minuscule,” said another leader.

The heavy representation of Vokkaligas in the current cabinet has also led to disappointment among another dominant caste — Lingayats — in the state further pushing the community to back the BJP whose state chief B S Yeddyurappa has established himself as the lone mass leader from the community.

Lingayat and Vokkaliga leaders now fear that the Congress may lose even the minuscule vote share it has from these communities. “By joining hands with JD(S), Congress is essentially allowing disappointed leaders, workers as well as voters to shift to BJP. Congress has not given a single representation to Lingayats in the form of MLAs, MLCs or MPs from the old Mysore region despite a sizeable population. The party refuses to nominate a candidate from North Karnataka as Rajya Sabha MP,” a Congressman from North Karnataka fumed.

The party is now slowly carrying out an analysis of what went wrong with its caste equations. A report is being prepared to compile community, class, caste-wise vote share of the party. It will be submitted to Congress president Rahul Gandhi to help develop counter-strategies against the BJP.  “In the coming days, we will have an introspection meeting where we will discuss where we fell short and what led to the failure,” said Minister D K Shivakumar, when asked about whether AHINDA voters rejected the Congress this time around.

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