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Karnataka Is Proof That BJP Needs To Rethink Its Strategy In State Elections

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Karnataka election is done, and it has yielded an enigmatic kind of voting pattern. With the polls coming up in 2019, it was vital for BJP and Congress to have better results and hence a better prospect in the upcoming polls. Congress led by Siddaramaiah has performed miserably in terms of winning seats. One reason can be anti-incumbency towards one government while other can be the dismal performance of Congress in terms of development. BJP had emerged as a single largest party in the state while JD(S) was able to retain its vote share and dented the prospects of Congress. After the results, JD(S) is forming the government with the support of Congress. At the same time, BJP, the single largest party in the state, is also claiming to form the government.

In one of my earlier articles on YKA, I had briefly talked about the permutation and combination before the election. I also analysed the caste-wise vote share of different caste group in Karnataka. In addition to this, I had the premonition that both BJP and Congress were posing aggressively for this election but were not confident for their core constituency. Rather, they were more focused on the split of other party’s vote. For example, Congress was dependent on the split of Lingayata vote while BJP on Vokalinga and other OBC & SC’s vote. But, contrary to these parties, JD(S) was focusing on its core voters rather than beating around the bush. It also strengthened its presence by getting support from BSP and AIMM.

This election has once again proved that In India caste reality is the ultimate reality. One can talk largely about development, good governance etc. but it is the caste which precedes everything and matters the most in politics. The caste identity plays a trump card in determining the winner of any election, and hence every political party in India meticulously plays this card. Every political party distributes tickets solely on the basis of caste as caste has been acknowledged more in politics than in society. Every political party has successfully mastered the art of distributing tickets according to the caste demography of the constituencies.

Also, we cannot eschew from the fact that charismatic personalities also exist in politics. The charismatic personality of Mr Modi is undeniable but even if we ignore him in this race, then also the only other thing that matters is caste. We have witnessed this in Phulpur and Gorakhpur, we have seen it in Karnataka. The parties like JD(S), BSP and AIMM were able to safeguard their forte not because of their governance or charisma but because of their interesting chemistry of identity.

All the saga of development, governance and aura of Siddharamiya flunked to deliver him victory in Chamudeshwari, and he has to fight very hard in Badami. He and his 16 ministers have lost the election despite all their hue and cry of media houses and Rahul Gandhi. This election paved the way for more openness in 2019 general election. This election has shaken the credibility of Congress, but at the same time, it also revealed that people are not going to have blind faith in one party, let alone the BJP. They are not buying all arguments of opposition against BJP, nor they are rejecting regional strongman. There is an inherent connection between their identity and the leader who represents their identity.

This election and JD(S), BSP and AIMM alliance also discloses the fact that the alliance may not guarantee vote consolidation as the share of BSP has dropped dramatically and it could get only one seat out of 20 contested seats. The alliance between the leader of the party and alliance of the community are two different things. Sometime and somewhere it can get success while on the other hand, it can also taste defeat. The alliance of community may be able to win this election, but it cannot win the actual representation of people.

The election strategy of BJP and Congress could have delivered them the full majority but it could not because caste politics still matters the most to people and they have tried to accommodate JD(S) by not ditching this party. BJP has to understand that it cannot obliterate all the regional parties in one go. It can delve into weakening Congress but cannot do the same with the regional parties. If BJP wants to rule as a central government, then it has to be inclusive and give space to regional parties in the states. BJP has to rethink its ambitious mission to rule in the state just like Congress did in 50’s and has to understand that caste and the class reality of India has been changed a lot since the 50s.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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