Karnataka polls: The vocabulary of politics

Bangalore, May 4 (IANS) Lingayats, Vokkalikga heartland, Old Mysore, Hyderabad-Karnataka, Mumbai-Karnataka: These terms crop up frequently in the media as voters in Karnataka queue up to cast their votes Sunday to elect the state’s 14th assembly.

To explain some frequently used terms: Lingayats and Vokkaligas are the two major caste groups in the state that have dominated the political scene for decades.

Lingayats: The largest community in Karnataka, born out of the reform movement of 12th century saint Basavanna, spread all over the state, and are dominant in the northern part. Lingayats worship Hindu god Shiva, and traditionally engage in agriculture and business.

As a group, the voting pattern of the Lingayats will be keenly analysed as B.S. Yeddyurappa, a Lingayat credited with rallying the community behind the BJP and bringing that party to power in the state for the first time in any southern state in 2008, has since left it. He now heads the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) and says his main aim is to root out the BJP from the state.

Vokkaligas: A major land-owning community dominant in south Karnataka, which is also believed to be the stronghold of the Janata Dal-Secular (JDS), as it is headed by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, a Vokkaliga.

The battle for Vokkaliga votes is mainly between JDS and the Congress, though BJP has been trying to get rid of the image that it depends mostly on Lingayats for support.

Kurubas (sheperds community): This group is spread all over Karnataka, and reference to this group will be mainly because Congress leader Siddaramaiah, who is a Kuruba, is a chief ministerial aspirant.

There are parts of the state known as Hyderabad-Karnataka, Mumbai-Karnataka — because these were parts of those regions until states’ reorganization in 1956 on language basis.

Old Mysore region: The reference is to a major part of south Karnataka. The name Karnataka came into being in the early 1970s. Till then, the state was known as Mysore.

The name change followed years of demands following the reorganization of states in 1956, integrating a large part of Kannada-speaking areas in the northern part with Mysore.

Hyderabad-Karnataka: The reference to the districts of Bellary, Raichur, Gulbarga, Koppal, Bidar and Yadgir in the north, which were part of Hyderabad province during the rule of the Nizams.

Mumbai-Karnataka: This reference is to Belgaum, Dharwad and surrounding areas in the north which were part of Bombay presidency during pre-Independence days.

Coastal Karnataka: Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada, on the west coast. This region had become a BJP stronghold, but the influence of that party waned in municipal polls in March this year. The BJP fared poorly in those polls.

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