Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily today described early trends suggesting a BJP victory in the Karnataka assembly polls as “quite disappointing” and attributed his party’s loss to “wrong caste management”.
The Congress should not have raised the Lingayat issue before the polls, Moily said, adding the party had not managed caste equations well in its electoral strategy.
He also defended Congress President Rahul Gandhi and praised him for engaging in a “positive campaign” as against the “negative campaign” carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah in the run-up to the May 12 election.
The BJP today appeared headed for a simple majority in the Karnataka assembly, with its candidates leading in 105 constituencies, leaving the ruling Congress way behind, according to trends in the state’s 222 seats.
The result is quite disappointing. Had it been on a development ground or a social justice ground, the Congress should have won. I think somewhere there was something wrong with caste management in Karnataka. That plays an important role.M Veerappa Moily, Senior Leader, Congress
The BJP’s “negative campaign” had “won the election for the party”, the Congress leader said. “They (Modi and Shah) never raised development issues. But at the same time, we should acknowledge somewhere we have not managed the caste equations very well.”
Moily said a section of party members had been voicing concern at various levels over the Congress raking up the Lingayat minority status issue. “...We need to examine that factor. I think on the Vokkaliga front also... somewhere we did not handle it well.”
The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka had written to the Central government, recommending that it consider representations of the Lingayat and Veerashaiva communities for recognition as a religious minority.
The Karnataka government had made the demand after the State cabinet decided to recommend to the Centre that a religious minority status be granted to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats.
The decision was seen by the BJP and other political opponents as a move by the Siddaramaiah government to cut into the vote bank of the BJP, which banks significantly on the support of the Lingayat community.