Continuing with the media coverage for the elections here is a story from the DNA.
The crux of the whole story is it wont be a cakewalk for Angadi this time as it was last time. I have also said the same thing on this blog. This election will be won based on Caste & language rather than on issues of development.
The month of May will not only see a new government at the Centre, but also the ‘rightful owner’ of the colour saffron in Belgaum.
One of the northernmost districts of Karnataka, Belgaum, has over two lakh Marathis. The Marathi population has been defiantly hoisting a saffron flag on the district municipal building since the 1950s.
The flag, they say, is a symbol of Maratha pride. Now the saffron colour and its symbolic connotations have become a major campaign issue. A fight is on between the Hindutva brigade and the Marathis over who ‘owns’ the colour.
Things turned awry on March 17 this year when the Marathis were not allowed to hoist the flag at the new municipal corporation building as a PIL had been filed in a local court against the practice. Matters became complicated when BJP MP Suresh Angadi decided to intervene. Swearing on Kannada pride, he fought with Marathi leaders and hoisted the flag.
This resulted in a clash between Angadi’s men and Kannada Rakshana Vedike activists, who accused the BJP MP of being anti-Kannada for letting the Marathis usurp the saffron colour.
In the melee, it dawned on Angadi that Maratha pride was all very well, but it would scupper his chances with the rest of the populace, including the 4.7 lakh Kannada-speaking lingayats in the area who traditionally supported the BJP due to chief minister BS Yeddyurappa.
With opponents like Amar Singh Patil of the Congress and AB Patil of the Janata Dal (S), both lingyats, Angadi realised that the general elections would not be a cakewalk.
To make matters worse, the Akhil Bharatiya Veera Shaiva Mahasabha (ABVSM), which decides on lingayat support to candidates, has not given its blessings to any party.
When DNA spoke to Angadi, he appeared upset at suggestions that he had taken a partisan stand on the flag issue. “The colour saffron stands for Hindu pride. Hindu warriors have fought under the saffron flag for centuries. What Varun Gandhi has done for Hindus in the north, I have done for Hindus in Belgaum,” he said. When asked if that meant he was not interested in votes from Marathi-speaking residents of the district, he hastened to add, “Marathi and Kannada are like my two eyes. In Belgaum, one cannot see without both of them.”
When AB Patil was asked to comment on the war over saffron ownership, he preferred to remain quiet. Saffron, it seems, has managed to make people in Belgaum see red.