Bengaluru: The ruling BJP will look to dent the Congress’ Ahinda vote base by ensuring the victory of four disqualified legislators who are Kurubas, the community that Congress leader Siddaramaiah belongs to. 

Ahinda is a Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits. It is widely believed that the Congress rode to power in 2013 and managed to win 80 seats in the May 2018 polls through the Ahinda votes, with Siddaramaiah making efforts to emerge as their leader. 

The BJP has fielded MTB Nagaraj, Byrathi Basavaraj, R Shankar and H Vishwanath who are all Kurubas. Their victory in the December 5 bypolls will give the saffron party a shot in the arm while potentially dealing a blow to Siddaramaiah’s credibility as the community’s leader. 

The narrative seems to be headed that way, with MTB Nagaraj mincing no words while attacking Siddaramaiah’s credentials as a Kuruba leader. He had told reporters, "Siddaramaiah betrayed not only me, but also the community. In his tenure as chief minister for five years, he had just two Kurubas as ministers. When HD Devegowda was CM, he had six Vokkaligas and SM Krishna had eight Vokkaligas.” 

Nagaraj also pointed out that Kurubas numbered 60 lakh in the state. "In his 40-year career, Siddaramaiah was deputy CM and CM, but he didn’t give us (Kurubas) a medical or engineering college. He neither included us under Category-1 nor recommended our inclusion into SC/ST category,” Nagaraj said. 

Apparently, making inroads into the Ahinda vote bank is a long-term plan for the BJP. The saffron party has traditionally enjoyed the support of the dominant Lingayat community. With leaders such as B Sreeramulu and Ramesh Jarkiholi, the party can claim support of the scheduled tribes.