Skip to main content

In Karnataka it's Modi's hypernationalism vs Siddaramaiah's strong assertion of regional identity: Top scribe

By Our Representative
As Karnataka goes to polls on May 12, the view has gone strong that it is going to be a battle between Prime Minister Narendra Modi's populism and mascular hypernationalism, on one hand, and Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah's "sub-nationalism — a strong assertion of regional identity and state pride", on the other.
On campaign trail in Karnataka, top journalist Barkha Dutt, writing in "Washington Post" ("Can the son of a cattle grazer stop Modi in India’s South?"), even as seeking to paint a glowing profile of Siddaramaiah, has suggested that the chief minister has proved to be a perfect match for Modi by seeking to offer what she calls "a fascinating case study of what a non-elite, subaltern liberal can look like."
Introducing Siddaramaiah, 69, about the same age as that of Modi, to the Western world through the top American paper, Dutt says, "Until a few months ago, most Indians outside the southern state of Karnataka would not have been familiar with the name of Siddaramaiah."
One who "grew up in a community of poor shepherds and did not attend formal school until he was about 10 years old", Siddaramaiah, says Dutt, has today acquired the centrestage by projecting his "tough childhood", mirroring that of Modi, who grew up as the son of a tea seller. Thus, Siddaramaiah, says Dutt, told her that the free rice scheme he introduced in his state is "rooted in personal memories of going hungry as a kid."
And, asserts Dutt, at a time when Modi has been using his "extraordinary rise from poverty to power as a weapon to taunt the Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi and the pedigree he inherited as the great-grandson of the country’s first prime minister", with Siddaramaiah this card is simply not working.
Pointing towards what makes Siddaramaiah interesting is the way he has been using "regional identity and state pride" to oppose Modi, Dutt says, "He has advocated for a separate state flag and personally ordered that signs in Hindi on city subways be taken down and replaced with those in the region’s own language — Kannada."
Recalling that before Modi became prime minister, he governed Gujarat, where he won election after election by framing the fight in terms of Gujarati “asmita” (pride), Dutt underlines, "Siddaramaiah has attempted to make this election about Kannada pride. But the political similarities between the two men largely end there."
Pointing towards how Siddaramaiah has effectively neutralized the "fear of offending majority Hindu sentiments" by reminding BJP hardliners that he had "actually reared cattle and cleaned dung", unlike Adityanath, Dutt says, with his libertarian streak, he is "hoping that he stands as an effective counter to the intrusiveness of far-right Hindu groups."
"In a state where rationalists who question religion have been murdered, Siddaramaiah has not hesitated to describe himself as one", says Dutt, adding, at the same time, he has allowed himself to be "photographed bowing before pontiffs or walking about with a lemon gifted to him a by a voter who believed it warded off evil", calling it just an example of "mere courtesy rather than conviction."

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

RSS 'demonizing' Muslim demographics: Hindus' growth rate decline 2.5% lower

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The RSS is riding its old hobbyhorse again. Addressing the Yuva Dampati Sammelan attended by reportedly 2000 young couples organized by the RSS’ Kutumb Prabhodan in Agra on August 21, the RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, apparently concerned about the “declining Hindu population” exhorted young Hindu couples to have more children.

River interlinking to transfer tribals' drinking, irrigation water to Maharashtra industries

Counterview Desk
Top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), recently submitted its comments on the Damanganga–Vaitarna-Godavari Intrastate Link project to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a project sought to be packaged by the Maharashtra chief minister as diversion of water from allegedly water surplus Konkan region to the drought-affected Marathwada region.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

Here's proof: Manual scavenging is rampant, Ahmedabad isn't open defecation free

By Parsottam Vaghela*
Authorities of Ahmedabad, the largest city of Gujarat, may have gone into full swing in its cleanliness drive under the Swachh Bharat mission after the city was awarded the open defecation free plus (ODF+) certificate by the Union government’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. However, my visit to some of the areas of the walled city of Ahmedabad on August 7 in order to ascertain whether it has become open defecation free suggested that the claim is a total humbug.

Govt of India 'has no plan' to reduce energy, fossil fuel consumption, emissions

Counterview Desk
In his representation to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Government of India on draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP), 2019, top power policy analyst Shankar Sharma has insisted that there is imminent need to consider the economic activities at the national/international level very carefully from the perspective of climate change.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.