(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 12, 2013
State Not Likely to be Free from Mafioso Control
AS was guessed by anybody with an iota of political common sense, it was the Congress that derived all advantage of the Karnataka people’s acute desire to punish the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its disastrous rule; the latter also lost because of its three way division. Whether the Congress would get a majority on its own or would have to seek an alliance with some other party, what would be the extent of loss of the BJP, and how much of the discontent would accrue to the Janata Dal (Secular) --- these were the only questions of interest that remained. The anxiety of the voters to put an end to the BJP government was so great that the voter turnout was 70.23 per cent, which was very close to the 71.90 per cent of 1978 --- the highest turnout up till now in the history of the Karnataka assembly polls. This was in spite of the Election Commission’s persistent effort to impose a dull campaign onto the electorate.
It was thus with several factors working in its favour that the Congress could have a landslide victory, though the general apathy towards the Congress, that was being felt so palpably throughout, kept its leaders on tenterhooks till the very end. The Congress made tall promises in its manifesto; for example it promised 30 kg of rice per month to each BPL family at Rs 1, in competition with the BJP’s assurance of 25 kg at the same rate. The Congress assured a Rs 4 subsidy on every litre of milk, remunerative prices for farmers as per the recommendation of an expert committee, interest free loan of Rs two lakh for every farmer, heavy investment in irrigation and power production, laptops and digital notebooks to all PUC students, etc. so much so that the Congress High Command took the state leadership to task for doling out “impracticable” assurances.
The fact is that such assurances were no less than cruel jokes being played upon the people as at the same time the central government drastically reduced the allocation of rice to the state, resulting in a cut of 4 kg per family of five adult members ---from 20 to 16 kg. The central government also reduced the quantum of fertiliser subsidy, and proceeding to sign a free trade agreement with the European Union which would severely affect the milk producers, among others, of the state.
The anxiety of the new rulers is now very much understandable. When the mining mafia and land mafia, having affinities to the BJP, were having a field day, some groups of the very same mafioso were compelled to remain just jealous onlookers. Now they cannot allow the chance to slip and somehow they have to occupy the seat of power. Who were these favourites of the Congress High Command to have got the tickets and would be the future rulers? They are brothers Anil Lad and Santosh Lad, D K Shivkumar, Krishnappa and his son Priya Krishnappa, Shamanur Shivashankarappa and his son Mallikarjun --- all parts of same mining, land and education mafias that controlled the BJP. Many of them have hundreds of crores in declared and hidden wealth. Many who have won on the BJP and JD(S) tickets are owners of assets worth tens of crores. Stranglehold of the same mafia groups on the future government and the legislative assembly is thus assured. The question is: can we expect any let-up in the brazen loot of the natural and human resources of Karnataka?
How have these people won?
There was hardly any debate during the campaign on the issues affecting the common people. The main political parties were not interested in organising and addressing public meetings. A few public meetings were organised only when their national leaders visited the state. Most of the campaign was in the form of road shows where common people were be provided an opportunity of ‘darshan’ of the very faces they were seeing everyday on their TV screens. It was only the CPI(M) that made serious attempts to take up issues to the people through many big and small public meetings.
The national level leaders of the Congress and the BJP – Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan singh on one side and L K Advani, Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj etc on the other side – accused one another of corruption and doled out vague assurances of development. They did not even refer to their own manifestoes and the assurances contained in it.
Their main modus operandi of these parties was to stealthily distribute money to the extent of tens of crores in many constituencies. Distributing money among the caste leaders in various villages and localities, purchasing the followers of opposite parties etc have been their regular practice. Now direct distribution to voters through a centralised apparatus has become the main mode, with each house getting 5,000 to 10,000 rupees. They did not refrain from using the self-help groups and Stree Shakti groups as easy conduits for money to reach women. In many constituencies such groups were distributed Rs 10,000 to 20,000 each. All this was happening under the very nose of the Election Commission that was using a number of bureaucrats from outside and within the state. All the money its officials captured would not equal to that spent in any one single constituency.
As for the performance of the CPI(M), it was found swimming against the high tide of vote purchasing and other malpractices. On its part, the party ran its election campaign in every constituency on the issues facing the people there, and its expenditure remained limited to two or three lakhs in many of the constituencies it contested --- as against the limit of 16 lakh rupees legally allowed for each candidate. CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat and Polit Bureau members Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat, M A Baby, K Varadarajan and B V Raghuvulu addressed public meetings in all the constituencies except two. The CPI(M) could protect its votes share of the 2008 elections in Bagepalli, the constituency which it won thrice earlier after 1983
This time, however, the constituency saw the poaching attempts of a real estate tycoon and by the end of the campaign period all the landlords and other vested interests in the constituency rallied around him --- with the result that the incumbent legislator, contesting on a Congress ticket, came fourth with only 15,491 votes. More than 30,000 votes obtained by the Congress in 2008 went this time to this independent candidate who won. The CPI(M) obtained 35,472 votes, almost the same as in 2008, while the JD(S) and BJP obtained here 16,779 and 1,084 votes respectively.