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

'These people shouldn't be in jail': UN official seeks release of 16 human rights defenders

By Our Representative A United Nations human rights official has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to “immediately release" 16 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism in the Bhima-Koregaon Case, insisting, “These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes and we should all be looking to them and supporting them and demanding their release.”  

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).