Watch: Why Karnataka’s millennial voters are shying away from BJP

Karnataka’s 15.44 lakh millennial voters are turning out to be the biggest block of influencers in the elections, and they are put off by rabid polarisation and thought-control unleashed by BJP

Watch: Why Karnataka’s millennial voters are shying away from BJP

VK Shashikumar

Karnataka’s 15.44 lakh millennial voters are turning out to be the biggest block of influencers in the assembly elections due on May 12, and they are put off by the rabid polarisation and unmodern thought-control unleashed by the leaders and foot soldiers of the BJP.

Take, for instance, the public announcements of Karnataka BJP leaders in recent times:

  • Sanjay Patil, BJP candidate for Belagavi Rural: “This election is not about roads, water or other issues. This election is about Hindus vs Muslims, Ram Mandir vs Babri Masjid"
  • KS Eshwarappa, BJP candidate for Shimoga: “Muslims who killed 22 RSS and BJP activists are with the Congress and those who are good Muslims are with the BJP”
  • BS Yeddyurappa, BJP CM candidate for Karnataka, speaking in Belagavi: If you think that somebody isn't voting, go to their homes, tie up their hands and legs and bring them to vote in favour of Mahantesh Doddagoudar (BJP candidate from Kittur)

These statements have put off millennial voters, who aspire towards greater, not lesser, freedoms. Several creative and well produced videos circulating on social media platforms throughout the election campaign, are appealing to the global, constitutional and cosmopolitan sensibilities of these young voters.

The messaging of these videos is clear—what kind of India do the young voters envision? A progressive, economically developed, strife-free, science and technology enabled society balancing the best of Indian civilisational values and heritage with modernism. Or an India descending into layers of political chaos and societal conflict fuelled by Hindutva extremism in which the majority Hindu community loses complete touch and control over its own rich 5,000 years of expansive moderation and magical civilisational ability to assimilate and integrate all thoughts, strands of opinion and practice.

One such video uploaded on Facebook conveys the following message: “What We Eat, What We Wear, Who We Love, What We Say—Should Be Our Right. We In Karnataka Have The Right—Vote Liberal, Progressive, Inclusive, Responsibly”.

This YoungIndian video has notched up 335,000 views and 8,700 shares on Facebook alone. Clearly, it is making an impression on the millennial voters of Karnataka (those born on or after January 1, 2000 and having attained the age of eligibility to vote, ie 18 years), who want a country which provides equal opportunities for all Indian citizens, a country free of social and communal conflict, violent extremism and a country which has zero tolerance for sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual harassment of women and children. On the You Tube channel of ‘YoungIndian’ a young Kannadiga posted this inspiring message: “This video represents every thought that comes in my mind if we choose a communal party like BJP. We are young...we represent harmony and respect and love toward each other.”

Young voters are in Karnataka are afraid of the consequences of voting BJP to power. Every state government that has voted BJP to power is facing severe law and order breakdown, increasing attacks on sexual violence on women and children and communities thrown into a state of perpetual conflict. Inter-ethnic and communal strife has perceptibly increased 2014 and this is reflected in the Government of India’s statistics. Latest National Crime Records Bureau statistics show the rise of violence across India after the BJP led by Narendra Modi assumed charge of the Government in 2014. For instance, according to NCRB communal violence increased by 41% in the last three years. In 2016 NCRB recorded India’s recorded more than 36,000 cases of rape, sexual assault, and similar offences against children in 2016. In BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan NCRB has recorded a rising graph of sexual violence against women and children. In fact, there is overwhelming data evidence, which reveals that women and children from underprivileged Dalit communities face horrifying sexual harassment, assault and rape on a daily basis.

Despite BJP’s best efforts to present itself as the preferred party of choice to Karnataka voters, it has been unable to mask its real agenda of upholding patriarchy, aggravating communal and casteist politics and push for deliberate religious discrimination. BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talk has remained just that—talk—without any commitment to hold himself or his party accountable to the Big Talk, But No Walk The Talk. If the massive outpouring of anxiety and concern in social media by young Kannadiga voters is an indicator of what might eventually transpire, then it might be safe to assume that young Indian voters are seeing through the charade of deceptive politics of development.

Young voters are in Karnataka are afraid of the consequences of voting BJP to power. Every state government that has voted BJP to power is facing severe law and order breakdown, increasing attacks on sexual violence on women and children and communities thrown into a state of perpetual conflict

The BJP’s top leadership has shouted about corruption from the rooftops, but has steadfastly refused to respond to corruption allegations within its own ranks. Instead the party and its footsoldiers have deliberately targeted its critics and opponents by operationalising a parallel ‘rule by fear’ machinery, which has had a deep chilling effect on the fundamental right to freedom of expression. This in turn has severely damaged the institutional capacity of India’s law and order machinery and the criminal justice system to such an extent that ‘fear’ has become an everyday instrument for the party and its supporters to openly use to subdue and subvert the constitutional rights of citizens. In fact, the viral video produced by YoungIndia captures this ‘politics of fear’ very aptly.

The young Indian voters want inclusive development, rapid economic growth for the country and its consequent benefits for all Indian citizens and creating a responsive legal and law enforcement machinery to enable all Indian women access their full citizenship and ensuring zero tolerance for rape, sexual violence. They want to thrive in jobs opportunities ecosystem wherein their skills find ways to continually evolve and expand in tune with the evolving economic and business landscape. They are cognisant that they cannot fuel their dreams in a society that is consumed by communal and ethnic strife because no real investment or development can take place in a society that is perpetually unstable.

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