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Sunday, 14 April 2024

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HomeNewsWhy Christian votes in Karnataka worry Congress

Why Christian votes in Karnataka worry Congress

The challenge is most palpable in areas like Dakshina Kannada, Bidar, Shivamogga and Bengaluru Central & North where Christian votes play a significant role

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The recent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) outreach to a section of the Christian community that is reportedly disenchanted with the Indian National Congress (INC) has put the party ruling the state in a position where it needs to work hard to secure minority votes before the Lok Sabha election. By positioning itself as a pro-minority party, the INC hopes to gain the support of a majority of Muslim and Christian voters. However, the growing dissatisfaction among some Christians regarding policies perceived to favour Muslims more, leading to feelings of neglect, poses a challenge for the INC.

This challenge is particularly evident in areas like Dakshina Kannada, Bidar, and Shivamogga, as well as Bengaluru Central and North where Christian votes play a significant role. Adding to the INC’s woes, A Bartholomew, a Christian leader and former general secretary of KPCC’s minority wing, has decided to run as an independent candidate from Bengaluru Central, despite the INC nominating Mansoor Ali Khan.

Bartholomew expressed his discontent by stating,

The Congress gave the Bengaluru Central ticket twice to a Muslim — in 2014 and 2019. The last time a candidate from the Christian community was given an opportunity was HT Sangliana in 2009. Congress should have considered a Christian this time. I have decided to contest as a rebel in protest.

The INC’s decision to nominate a minority candidate was influenced by the significant Muslim (14.5%) and Christian (6%) population in the region. Christian representatives highlight that their community holds sway in assembly segments like Sarvagnanagar (9%), Shanthinagar (9%), Shivajinagar (5%), and CV Raman Nagar (4.5%).

Furthermore, some Christians are dissatisfied with the ticket distribution during the previous year’s assembly elections. The INC fielded three Christian candidates: KJ George (Sarvagnanagar), John Richard Lobo (Mangalore City South), and Nivedith Alva (Kumta). Among them, only George emerged victorious.

The BJP is actively engaging with the Christian community, highlighting what they perceive as the INC’s preferential treatment towards Muslims. Recently, the BJP has established a 20-member team in each district to strengthen their support among Christians.

Anil Thomas, the president of the BJP Minority Morcha, expressed optimism about the response they have received from Christians during their meetings at the taluka* level. He said,

We are currently conducting meetings at the taluk-level, and the response we have been receiving from Christians is encouraging.

Muzamil Ahmed Babu, a member of the BJP’s campaign committee for southern states, announced that the Karnataka unit will organize a roadshow featuring Anil Antony, the son of the INC veteran AK Antony. Anil Antony is contesting as a BJP candidate from Pathanamthitta in Kerala.

In response, the INC is taking measures to mitigate the damage caused by these developments. Rizwan Arshad, MLA from Shivajinagar and vice-chairman of KPCC’s campaign committee stated that there will be more opportunities for Christians in elections to the legislative council and Rajya Sabha. He also expressed confidence that Christians will remain loyal to the INC.

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