Karnataka Assembly polls: Answer please, we’re outsiders

A gem-pick of 66 questions that ‘locals’ get asked by droves of Karnataka watchers, including reporters, astrologers and satta-bazaar players, as the Assembly polls approach 

As the Assembly polls approach, expectedly, there is a huge surge of interest in Karnataka. Droves of reporters, researchers, psephologists, astrologers, politicians and satta-baazar-wallahs, who were until recently deeply invested in the fortunes of Gujarat, are now slowly turning their gaze towards Karnataka. Their parachute gear is being readied. They know one or two broad things, but they desperately fish for nuggets of nuance (an oxymoronish postulation) to pepper or begin intelligent conversations in their drawing rooms, newsrooms, office rooms, restrooms, walking tracks and lift cabins. So, what are the questions we, locals, get asked most times. Here’s a gem-pick of 66:

  1. Why is Karnataka so different? Why are cinema actors not big in politics here?
  2. Is Kannada really the official language, but we heard some other tongue being spoken in Kodagu and Mangaluru?
  3. Why does Siddaramaiah have no initials or a surname?
  4. Is Siddaramaiah an atheist?
  5. Why is the Chief Minister’s wife never seen in public, and why has no newspaper published her picture?
  6. What is the difference between Left and Right dalits?
  7. Is Mallikarjun Kharge Left or Right dalit?
  8. What is this whole Lingayat religion controversy?
  9. What is the real difference between Lingayats and Veerashaivas?
  10. Does religion work here or caste?
  11. Why do Kannadigas also fight with Tamilians over Cauvery river water?
  12. Now, why are they fighting with Goa over the Mahadayi river?
  13. Why did Narendra Modi and Amit Shah pick Yeddyurappa despite he having an image problem?
  14. Why did Modi and Shah pick a little-known MP like Ananth Kumar Hegde as a minister?
  15. Are Ananth Kumar Hegde and Justice Santosh Hegde related?
  16. Is Siddaramaiah really anti-Hindu?
  17. Where have the Reddy brothers vanished? Why is nobody speaking about them?
  18. Are the Reddy brothers quietly funding the BJP? By the way, where have they hidden their money?
  19. Why are only Congress leaders being raided in Karnataka by the IT department?
  20. Is Yeddyurappa married?
  21. Does Yeddyurappa stay with his sons and daughters?
  22. Do the father and son, HD Deve Gowda and HD Kumaraswamy, get along?
  23. Does Deve Gowda favour his other son, HD Revanna?
  24. Is there rebellion in the Gowda family and the JD(S)?
  25. How many from the Gowda family will contest this time?
  26. What feeds Deve Gowda’s political stamina?
  27. Does Kumaraswamy still have filmi interests?
  28. Will JD(S) go with Congress or BJP if there is a hung Assembly?
  29. Will the BSP cannibalise the BJP’s and the Congress’ dalit vote?
  30. Who will be the BJP’s CM candidate if Yeddyurappa ends up like Himachal’s Dhumal?
  31. What is the difference between Uttara Kannada and North Karnataka?
  32. Why is it called Hyderabad Karnataka and Bombay Karnataka? By the way, what is Old Mysore?
  33. Why is there this Hindutva frenzy only in Mangalore?
  34. Is the ‘URS’ in the name of the former CM Devaraj Urs like the ‘URS’ in a Sufi context?
  35. Why is Yeddyurappa’s old foe, Parliamentary Affairs Minister HN Ananth Kumar, so quiet?
  36. Will Ananth Kumar be a dark horse as CM or do Modi-Shah despise him?
  37. Why did SM Krishna leave the Congress? Has it got something to do with his son-in-law?
  38. Was Congress strongman DK Shiva Kumar close to SMK?
  39. Is KPCC President Parameshwara still close to SMK?
  40. Will Nandan Nilekani be a BJP MP from Karnataka?
  41. Why has Rajeev Chandrasekhar not been made a minister?
  42. Why was Digvijay Singh taken off Karnataka?
  43. Is the current AICC in-charge, Venugopal, better than Digvijay Singh?
  44. How close is actor Ramya to the Congress High Command?
  45. Will minorities vote en bloc for the Congress this time?
  46. Is BJP trying to split the Muslim vote?
  47. Who is floating all the new parties coming up in the state, and more importantly, who is funding them?
  48. Can Kejriwal ever dream of a seat in Karnataka?
  49. What chance does Swaraj India have? Or, is it seen as an NGO in an advocacy space?
  50. Who really is the Karnataka in-charge of BJP: Muralidhar Rao, Piyush Goyal or Prakash Javadekar?
  51. Do BJP leaders in the state dislike or fear Amit Shah?
  52. At what stage are all the cases against Yeddyurappa?
  53. Does Karnataka government operate on a low “ten percent commission” as alleged by Modi?
  54. Why is Yogi Adityanath being fielded as a campaigner in Karnataka?
  55. How much will Hindi work in Karnataka?
  56. Will Rahul Gandhi contest from Karnataka in 2019 like his grandmother?
  57. Is it important for Rahul Gandhi to visit temples and seminaries in Karnataka?
  58. Whatever happened to Socialist leaders in Karnataka? Wasn’t the state a hotbed of socialist politics?
  59. Is Siddaramaiah closer to Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi?
  60. Does Siddaramaiah retain influence over his former JD(S) colleagues?
  61. Is Siddaramaiah like Amarinder Singh?
  62. Why wasn’t Siddaramaiah active for the first four years of his term?
  63. Does Siddaramaiah still suffer from sleep apnea?
  64. Is it true that the chief minister is good with numbers?
  65. What is this Kuruba community that the CM belongs to? How big are they? Are they bigger than the Gowdas? Are they a tribe?
  66. Is caste more important in Karnataka or religion? (repeating because repeatedly asked)

I am sure there are more questions. So, keep this list growing until the campaigning ends. In fact, until the results are out! Make it a hundred. Why not a thousand? Whoever answers these questions will have to have some pretense of a political/historical/sociological /cultural/anthropological/ethnographic understanding of Karnataka.

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