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

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

VHP doesn't represent all Hindus, Sunni Waqf Board all Muslims: NAPM on SC ruling

Counterview Desk
India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as describing the Supreme Court's Ayodhya judgement unjust, has said, it is an "assault on the secular fabric of the Constitution". In a statement signed by top social workers and activists, NAPM said, "The judgement conveys an impression to Muslims that, despite being equal citizens of the country, their rights are not equal before the law."

Holy dip in Sabarmati? Ahmedabad industrial units discharge wastewater despite notice

By Our Representative
In a sharp admission, the Gujarat government has said that most of the industrial units of Ahmedabad, as also the city's residential houses, discharge waste water in Sabarmati, polluting the river. Notably, the river’s 11 kilometre stretch in Ahmedabad, where the riverfront has been beautified, is sought to be projected as a model for the country as a whole.