Why Karnataka Congress Is Elated With The PFI Ban
In coastal Karnataka and Kerala, the ban on PFI does give the Congress an electoral reason to cheer.
In the electoral grounds of coastal Karnataka and Kerala, the ban on PFI does give the Congress a reason to cheer.
The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political arm of the PFI, will now find the going difficult, with both its brains and brawn banned. The Muslim vote that SDPI was garnering could now possibly go to the Congress instead.
It was political shortsightedness on the part of the Congress that initially fostered the growth of the PFI-SDPI in both Karnataka and Kerala, where their presence is the strongest.
For temporary electoral gains and in a bid to curb the growth of the BJP, the Congress failed to keep the SDPI in check.
The short sighted move cost the Congress the minority vote bank in crucial pockets in both Karnataka and Kerala. With no clarity over its positioning vis-a-vis communally sensitive issues, the Congress almost lost its hold even in pockets that once swore by it.
In 2013 assembly elections SDPi lost deposits in all but one seat it contested.
The SDPI supported the Congress in the 2018 assembly elections and withdrew 22 of their 25 candidates fielded initially. Of the three that contested SDPI candidates polled more votes than the victory margins in the constituencies.
Since the last 2018 elections in Karnataka especially, the SDPI has called out the Congress of not being supportive enough of minority causes.
After the 2020 Bengaluru riots, the SDPI emerged as the loudest voice of the Muslims. The recent hijab furore too was set in motion by the student arm of the PFI, the Campus Front of India, which also stands banned as per the recent order.
The urban local body elections too have been targeted by the SDPI since then, with the party winning either independently or forcing the Congress to join hands with it to defeat the BJP.
In coastal Karnataka, for instance, two strongholds of the Congress, Ullal and Bantwal, saw SDPI win considerable seats, much to the unease of the Congress. As reported, of the total 26 seats it contested it had managed to win 11.
This took its score from 21 in 2013, to a whopping 121 in local body seats in 2021.
UT Khader, the only Congress legislator on the Karnataka coast, has admitted that the SDPI is “a threat to the Congress, especially in Karnataka”.
Recently, the SDPI leaders, especially in communally sensitive regions like coastal Karnataka, have been clearly saying that they now are ‘an alternative to Congress’, especially with the SDPI positioning itself as fighting for the 'Dalit cause' too—denting Siddaramaiah-led Congress’ AHINDA votebank.
With reports of its plans to contest the long pending BBMP elections, and the state assembly elections too, the Congress would sure feel better if the SDPI has its wings clipped.
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