Ballari: It’s a fight between “touchable” and “untouchable” Dalits in Ballari, where the Congress is hoping to field candidates of the former community in two assembly constituencies reserved for scheduled castes, disappointing the latter, who traditionally vote for it in this orerich district.
The Congress state election committee's decision to recommend the fielding of former MLA, Bhima Naik , a Lambani, who recently quit the JD(S) to join it, from Hagari Bommanahalli (SC) assembly constituency has angered the 'untouchable' Dalits, who have now raised the banner of revolt. The choice of another Lambani, former Minister, P T Parameshwar Naik, for Hadagali too has not gone down well with them.
Mr Naik was inducted into the Congress despite opposition from local Congress leaders and the fact that he is now in the running for a ticket from Hagaribommanahalli constituency, which he represented the previous term, has upset many. On Tuesday , a delegation of 'untouchable' Dalits from the Congress met senior leader, Mallikarjun Kharge to protest the choice of Mr Bhima Naik for Hagari Bommanahalli constituency and demanded the ticket for an 'untouchable' Dalit instead.
"Untouchable Dalits, particularly Madigas, are in the majority in Ballari district constituting over 7.5 lakh voters in the district. But none of the major political parties ,including the Congress, which always talks about social justice, have offered tickets to Madiga leaders this assembly election," deplores Mr Jaganatha, vice-president, Karnataka Madiga Dandora.
Pointing out that untouchablity is still practiced in villages of Hagaribommanahalli and Hadagali constituencies, he says till date Madigas are not allowed into hotels, saloons and temples in many of their villages. “CM calls himself a Ahinda leader, but he has forgotten the Madiga community," he laments, warning that if the Congress fails to give a ticket to a Madiga, the community will turn against it.
While admitting that the Congress had fielded Madiga leaders earlier in 2008 and 2013 assembly elections from Hagari Bommanahalli and they had lost, a Dalit leader, Janardhan from Ballari, argues the situation was different then as the Reddy mining barons were in power and money played a key role. “After two electoral defeats, there is sympathy for Madigas in Hagari Bommanahalli and a wave in favour of the Congress,” he maintains.
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