Coastal Karnataka results hold an important lesson for the BJP: it does not always pay to stoke communal fires.
Coastal Karnataka was known for its beaches, forests, salubrious lifestyle and secular outlook, particularly in Mangalore, (now Dakshina Kannada) and Udupi districts.
From 2006, these districts, representing 13 seats, saw a continuing trend of moral policing, attacks on churches and communal conflagrations. The polarisation benefitted the BJP in 2008 when it won a record eight seats. The Congress was reduced to five in its bastions.
Now, the BJP is reduced to two seats while the Congress won 10. In the entire coastal region comprising 21 seats, the Congress bagged 13, the BJP could manage only 5 seats.
Mangalore-based political writer Ramesh Perla said “People here voted against moral policing and communal issues.”
BJP leaders declined to comment. However, the party’s approach and actions of radical Hindu organisations have set the region up for competitive radicalism.