SDPI to contest 100 seats in 2023 polls

Published on Sep 29, 2022 12:08 AM IST

The government has banned several affiliates of the PFI, but left out the SDPI, fuelling speculation that they were required for the BJP to help split minority votes which the Congress banks on.

The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political arm of the now banned Popular Front of India (PFI), said the actions of the BJP in silencing those who fight for the constitution will not deter its goal to contest in at least 100 seats in the 2023 Karnataka assembly election. (PTI)
The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political arm of the now banned Popular Front of India (PFI), said the actions of the BJP in silencing those who fight for the constitution will not deter its goal to contest in at least 100 seats in the 2023 Karnataka assembly election. (PTI)
BySharan Poovanna, Bengaluru

The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political arm of the now banned Popular Front of India (PFI), said the actions of the BJP in silencing those who fight for the constitution will not deter its goal to contest in at least 100 seats in the 2023 Karnataka assembly election.

The government has banned several affiliates of the PFI, but left out the SDPI, fuelling speculation that they were required for the BJP to help split minority votes which the Congress banks on.

“We are into electoral politics and it (SDPI) is also a movement for Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, Christians and others. We will continue on our path. In the coming elections, we will work to contest in at least 100 constituencies (out of 224 seats in the state),” Riyaz Kadambu, the SDPI state committee member, told HT.

The statements come hours after the BJP-led central government banned PFI and its affiliates, including the Campus Front of India (CFI), its student wing.

The SDPI are yet to prove themselves in the assembly elections, but have garnered support in local body elections, especially where the Congress has wavered in consolidating its position in Muslim-dominated localities.

The CFI were key stakeholders in the Hijab controversy as they stood behind the Udupi Government Pre-University College girls who challenged the restrictions against wearing headscarves inside classrooms.

The Congress has lost significant ground to the BJP in the coastal districts where religion plays a bigger role than in other caste-dominated narratives in other parts of the state.

The SDPI has capitalised on this in recent times as the Congress secured just three out of the 19 seats in the 2018 election as against 12 in the 2013 polls in the three coastal districts of Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada.

However, the BJP snatched 17 seats from the grand old party to emerge as the biggest winner from the region. Since the BJP’s victory, the SDPI has tried to make inroads with the party winning six seats in the 2021 local body polls.

Interestingly, the SDPI stands to gain from taking on the BJP as it continues to attract more minority votes in the region by eating into what was earlier believed to be the support base of the Congress, people aware of the developments said.

In the 2013 assembly elections, the SDPI contested in 23 seats and managed to secure 3.27% vote share in the seats it contested. In 2018, the party pulled out of most seats it had earlier announced to contest but secured 10.50% in the three seats it eventually did go to the polls, according to ECI data.

In terms of votes, it secured 45,781 votes in all three constituencies in 2018, accounting for 0.12% of the entire vote share as against 98,249 votes in 2013 or 0.31% of the share.

Kadambu said it has over 350 elected representatives in gram and taluka panchayats and govern at least three of them. They also have coalitions with the Congress in some parts of Dakshina Kannada, the hotbed of communal politics in Karnataka.

The SDPI said it has connections with any organisation that works against the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the BJP.

“The decision of (the) union government banning Popular Front of India and its associate organisations is a direct blow on democracy and the rights of people enshrined in Indian Constitution,” MK Faizy, national president of SDPI, said in a statement.

“Whoever spoke against the wrong and anti-people policies of the BJP regime have faced the threats of arrests and raids from them. Freedom of speech, Protests and organisation have been ruthlessly suppressed by the regime against the basic principles of Indian constitution. The regime is misusing the investigation agencies and laws to silence the opposition and to scare the people from expressing the voice of dissent. An undeclared emergency is clearly visible in the country,” he added.

Asked, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said: “Now, we have banned PFI, not SDPI. The SDPI is a registered political party, to ban it there are separate rules and laws. When the situation comes, the Centre will decide.”

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