D P Satish has been a journalist for the past 14 years. Born at the picturesque Jog Falls in Shimoga district of Karnataka, Satish did his graduation in English Literature. He is a post-graduate in Journalism from the prestigious Asian College of Journalism, Bangalore (now in Chennai). After a brief stint with the Indian Express Group, he shifted to TV. He also worked for an American news magazine called ' Image '. He has widely travelled and covered some of the biggest events from South of Vindhyas in the first decade of the 21st century. He is passionate about English literature, classical music, cinema, history, photography, jazz and Cricket. A self-proclaimed centrist, Satish keenly follows major political developments from across the World. He blogs regularly and spends hours searching for readable material from the Internet! He belives that journalism is a calling and a person meant to be a journalist, can't escape from it. A hillman at heart and by birth, Satish lives and works in New Delhi. But, loves Bangalore more than Delhi!
On 13 February, I wished Pramod Muthalik a 'Happy Valentine's Day' in advance! To my surprise, Muthalik, whose Sri Rama Sene, known for its strident opposition to 'foreign culture,' was more than welcoming.
When I asked him about this sudden change of stand, Muthalik said rather philosophically, "I tried my best to oppose such things in the past. The BJP government persecuted me for that. I have been facing more than 20 criminal cases slapped by the BJP government. The BJP government in Karnataka could be anything, but a pro-Hindutva government. It is a gang of criminals and people without any morality or committment to Hindutva ideology. Why should I suffer by opposing Valentine's Day or pub culture? I have decided to keep quiet this time. I want the people to kick this government out in the elections next year."
After two days, Tehelka carried a cover page story on Hindutva and Karnataka. The author of the story tried to portray a picture that Karnataka will be soon be a Hindutva lab like Gujarat.
As a journalist and an individual from the Western Ghats of Karnataka, I too agree with Muthalik's observations and disagree with Tehelka's. Because the reality speaks of a different situation. The BJP came to power in Karnataka because of mining money, polarisation of castes and a very weak and equally corrupt opposition. Certainly not because of Hindutva. The 'Hindutva' has been the last thing on their mind ever since they came to power four years ago.
It's true that the state has witnessed attacks on churches and pubs in the Udupi-Mangalore region, communal riots in Mysore and a few stray incidents in some other parts. It is also true that senior BJP leaders and ministers like Dr V S Acharya (who died recently) openly sided with the Hindutva elements and even defended their actions. They even tried to muzzle the media and target journalists (I was also targeted once) who questioned them. But the entire party or the government has never been a party to such acts.
As I have mentioned earlier, BJP in Karnataka is not monolithic like BJP in Gujarat. It is an alliance of different castes led by the numerically-strong Lingayats. In its eagernerss to come to power, the BJP allowed all kinds of people to enter the Assembly on its ticket. Of the 120-odd BJP MLAs, at least 50-60 MLAs are from non-BJP, non-Hindutva background. Most of them openly oppose the RSS and stay away from all the RSS sponsored programmes. If the BJP wants to return to power, it needs the support of all these MLAs once again. Without them the BJP may not be able to win even 50 seats only on the Hindutva plank. If anybody knows this truth better, it is none other than the state leadership of the BJP.
The BJP in Karnataka is blinded by money and power. It can't see anything beyond money and power. If the Hindutva ideology is a problem in achieving its goal, the party is ready to abandon that too. It is not that everybody in the Karnataka BJP wants to drop Hindutva for power and money. But their number is low. With the death of Dr V S Acharya, the present government has lost a strong Hindutva voice within the government. For the soft-spoken, well-mannered Dr Acharya, Hindutva was non-negotiable.
The BJP as on today is divided on caste lines. Lingayaths are rallying behind Yeddyurappa and they are not traditional backers of the RSS. Some OBCs are behind state BJP president K S Eshwarappa, Vokkaligas behind the chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda and Dalits behind someone else. If anybody thinks that Hindutva unites these highly corrupt and most shameless warring factions, he or she is most probably hallucinating.
Gujarati Hindu society is more or less monolithic in nature. It is fully vegetarian, opposes alcohol etc (I am not saying that these things make people pro-Hindutva elements). Karnataka is a 100 per cent caste-ridden society. Different regions in Karnataka (broadly five regions) vote differently. Caste and candidates score over any idealogy - be it the Hindutva of BJP or the 'secularism' of Congress.
Muthalik is right. The BJP in Karnataka has dumped its core ideology for power and money. A section in the party might try to use Hindutva card in the next polls, but it won't yield much dividend. Just because people have voted the BJP to power, Karnataka has not become another Gujarat. And I sincerely hope it never becomes one.