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In the fractious caste-based politics of post-independent Karnataka, the historic rivalry between the Lingayats and Vokkaligas has dictated the trajectory of state politics with both these politically dominant castes having a disproportionately high share of political representation relative to their populations. Informal estimates put the respective populations of the Lingayats and Vokkaligas at around 14-16 per cent and 10-11 per cent of Karnataka’s population but MLAs belonging to these two castes won roughly half the seats (out of 224) in the 2018 elections in Karnataka.
While Lingayats are influential in north and central Karnataka where the BJP will compete with the Congress, Vokkaligas, a peasant caste, are dominant in 11 districts in south Karnataka with emphatic political supremacy in the districts of Hassan, Mandya, Ramanagaram and Bengaluru Rural. Even though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has managed to establish a strong base across Karnataka over the past three decades, it is perceived to be a Lingayat-backed party and the Vokkaliga dominated parts of south Karnataka or ‘Old Mysore’ (as this region is also known because it is contiguous with the former borders of the princely state of Mysore) have, largely, remained impervious to its influence.
This panel discussion examines this overwhelming and emphatic dominance of these two powerful communities on the politics of Karnataka.
Karnataka will be going in for Assembly elections in the middle of 2023. The Bangalore International Centre has organised a series of talks – Karnataka Votes 2023 – that highlights the various elements of state politics, its culture and history that are often unique to this state, and affect the voting pattern. This is the fourth session in the series.
Prof Muzaffar Assadi is currently Dean, Faculty of Arts, Professor of Departments of Political Science and Chairman of Public Administration at the University of Mysore. Earlier he was appointed as Special Officer of proposed Raichur University and even served as Vice-Chancellor(I/C)
of University of Mysore for a brief period. Muzaffar Assadi did his graduation from Mangalore University M.Phil and PhD from, Jawaharlal Nehru
University New Delhi. Later on, he went on to do his Post-Doctorate from the University of Chicago. He was appointed as visiting Chair Professor of Contemporary Indian Studies by the Govt of India to Russian State University for Humanities, MOSCOW. He served as an editorial board member of more than fifteen journals.
A. Narayana teaches public policy and governance in Azim Premji University. He has a master’s in economics and PhD in development studies. Electoral politics is an area of his interest which he developed during his earlier career as a journalist in Bangalore and he has been keenly watching elections in Karnataka since 1994. He writes on Karnataka politics in both Kannada and English newspapers and magazines.
Maya Sharma is Consultant Editor for New Delhi Television (NDTV). She has been a television journalist for over 30 years – as reporter, anchor and documentary film maker. She is a Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media. A Fulbright scholar from Syracuse University, New York, she has won several awards for her professional work.
Maya was among the first trained television journalists in India, with training at FTII and at CPC,New Delhi. Maya was part of the pioneering live telecast of election results in India in 1989 conducted by Prannoy Roy’s NDTV and Doordarshan – introducing a brand new way of covering election results, including live interviews with candidates and newsmakers, This has been followed by extensive political reporting in all the southern states including coverage of elections since 1989 upto the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the collapse of the Karnataka coalition govenment in 2019. Political reporting is a major focus of her work from Karnataka particularly – and she has closely watched and reported on the politics of this southern state for decades now.
Anusha Ravi Sood
Anusha is Political Editor at South First. With a career in journalism spread across Television, Newspaper and Digital platforms, her primary interests are politics, policy and human rights.