Parties play their caste cards | india | Hindustan Times
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Parties play their caste cards

india Updated: May 07, 2008 02:00 IST
BR Srikanth

As the dust and grime of electioneering kicks up in Karnataka, Congress shows it means business with the right caste calculations.

Overcoming resistance from senior leaders who were keen to push their kin into the fray, the party has staked its fortunes on the demographic profile of each seat and winnability of the candidate. So much so that it leads the pack with the highest number of OBC contestants in an obvious attempt to queer the pitch for its rivals. The OBCs add up to 34 per cent of the state's population and therefore hold the key to success of every political party.

It has also allotted significant number of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Vokkaligas, Veerashaivas and minorities in an apparent attempt to garner votes of all communities.

On the other hand, its rivals appear to be banking on other communities to ensure victory at the hustings – the BJP's list is dominated by Veerashaivas (who account for 16.9 per cent of the population), the JD-S has more Vokkaligas (who constitute 11 per cent) while the BSP has more SCs and STs than other parties. All of them have at least 10 women on their lists.

In its strategy to regain power, the Congress stuck to a set of guidelines: turned away relatives of leaders - son of Margaret Alva, grandson of CK Jaffer Sharief and brother of BK Hariprasad, among others - retired government officers and those who lost twice in previous polls to the assembly or were defeated by margin of 15,000 or more votes.

“The slogan of social justice combined with the ability of candidates to emerge victorious was the main criterion,” says state Congress president M Mallikarjun Kharge.

The BJP, however, went through the process of selection at a faster pace than others, with its chief ministerial candidate BS Yediyurappa calling the shots.