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

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

Can scientists believe in God, yet explore nature 'abandoning' belief?

By Dr TV Sajeev*  In August 2023, India celebrated the successful soft-landing of Chandrayan on the south pole of the moon. That mission too led to some questioning about whether scientists could believe in God. The culture of temple visits and poojas before the launch of rockets with or without payload had been a mocking point for a long while. 

Growing stream of pollution infecting homes, bodies in US, Vietnam

By Erica Cirino*  Louisiana’s “River Parishes,” located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, shoulder some of the worst industry impacts in the United States. As a result, this region has acquired a grim reputation as “ Cancer Alley .” 

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.