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Development, not religion, is the issue for BJP

April 22, 2009
Vikram Hegde, a senior advocate in Mangalore, feels moral policing will impact the BJP's chances.

"Moreover, the caste factor will also come into play. The Billavas are likely to vote only for Poojary and this is due to the tussle between the Bunts and Billavas. Kateel is a Bunt and this will draw Billava votes away from him," says Hegde.

The BJP realises the importance of presenting a secular face since the minorities constitute nearly 22 per cent of the constituency of over 1.4 million voters.

The party issues press statements each time a Muslim or Christian joins the party. During every BJP event, the march is led by four burqa-clad women carrying the BJP flag. In its election speeches here, BJP leaders have not once raised the church attacks, the pub incident or moral policing. The thrust is on development and getting back Indian funds illegally parked in Swiss banks.

"It is insecurity which has made the BJP resort to such tactics," Congress activists say. "These women may take part in rallies, but tell us if they will vote for the BJP."

Congress leaders remind voters about the violence that took place in Mangalore. Poojary tells voters during his door to door campaign that if the BJP wins the Mangalore Lok Sabha seat, there will be more trouble in the constituency.

Image: A BJP rally in Mangalore.

Also see: A new kind of politics | India Votes 2009

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