Homework | Guarantees or No Guarantees, Caste May End Up Deciding Elections in 4 States – News18

Do people vote for ‘guarantees’ and development, or do they still vote for their caste? While the Lok Sabha elections in the Narendra Modi era have risen above caste or guarantees, the caste factor still prevails strongly in state elections. In Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan or Telangana, the caste factor reigns supreme.

The popular notion is that it was the ‘5 guarantees’ that swung the Karnataka elections for the Congress a few months ago. However, if one looks at the results closely, a different picture emerges.

The chief reason for the Congress win in Karnataka was that Vokaliggas shifted their loyalties in the Old Mysore region from the JD(S) to the Congress because they thought their leader DK Shivakumar would become the Chief Minister.

The Vokaliggas always took pride in their leader, HD Deva Gowda becoming the Prime Minister and his son HD Kumaraswamy becoming the Chief Minister.

JD(S) collapsed in the election, losing deposits in two-thirds of the seats it contested, and the Congress benefitted from it. Similar had been the case in Rajasthan five years ago when the Congress swept eastern Rajasthan because the Gujjars dominant in three districts there thought their leader Sachin Pilot would become the Chief Minister.

The main reason the Congress did not project Pilot as the CM this time too is the fact that Ashok Gehlot’s community, the Mali voters, outnumber the Gujjar voters and the Mali voters also have a wide presence across Rajasthan.

In Madhya Pradesh, the OBC and tribal factors continue to run supreme with Shivraj Singh Chouhan confident that he will be CM again if the BJP wins as he feels his community has a strong presence over nearly 100 seats in the state.

Chouhan had sensed trouble when an incident with a tribal in Sidhi had come to the fore and he did quick damage control by going to Sidhi and washing the feet of the tribal victim of the incident.

Amid the Telangana elections, PM Narendra Modi has promised to set up a committee for sub-categorization of the ‘Madiga’ community in the SC quota to give them “justice”.

Apart from caste, the ‘outsider-insider’ factor also weighs upon voters in a state election. Ashok Gehlot, who has pitched his entire campaign on the ‘seven guarantees’, had to play this card towards the end of the elections.

Gehlot asked where he would go if people started trusting the ‘Gujaratis’, raising Modi’s comment during the 2018 Gujarat elections when he had appealed to Gujaratis to not listen to a ‘Marwari’ in Gehlot. He told voters towards the end that ‘main tahso door nahin’ (I will always be here in Rajasthan), while the BJP’s top leaders like Modi will only return to Rajasthan after five years.

That does not mean that ‘guarantees’ or development are not a factor at all. In Rajasthan, we saw that people were bothered that the ‘Chiranjeevi’ medical insurance scheme of the Gehlot government would stop if the Congress lost the election.

However, whether that will be the prime factor in determining their vote remains a big question. The Congress campaign in states has all been about the ‘guarantees’.

The BJP also had to take the ‘guarantee’ route in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh — promising an allowance for women in MP and Chhattisgarh and gas cylinders at just Rs 450 in Rajasthan.

But the political focus does remain on caste, with the Congress feeling its gambit of getting a caste census done in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, would do the trick for it as people have been given hope for a greater share in the reservation pie.

The BJP has called the caste census a ploy to divide the people and cited the OBC credentials of its top leader Narendra Modi to say it is the BJP which cares the most for the OBCs.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s comment in Rajasthan on the PM’s caste showed Congress knows that guarantees or no guarantees, it will be caste that will determine the final election result in the four key states on December 3.