Banjaras Put a Stopper on BJP’s Election Gains

Image credit: The Times of India

The internal reservation issue has thrown a spanner in BJP’s arithmetic of gains in Karnataka. According to the latest Times of India report, the internal reservation policy of Banjaras – a nomadic ethnic tribe that largely populates North Karnataka – is thought to affect the outcome of the elections.

The Banjaras, who are often referred to as Lambadis or Sugalis, are an ethnic group that has traditionally lived a nomadic lifestyle and sustained on labour. Agriculture, particularly floriculture, is the major source of livelihood for many of the tribe’s members. The Banjaras are spread out across different states in India but are mainly concentrated in agricultural regions of Karnataka. Their population makes up 6.6% of the state’s population and BJP’s aim to take more seats this election is highly dependent upon wooing the Banjara vote.

Unfortunately for the BJP, however, the Banjaras have a number of their own internal reservations that the party needs to take into consideration. The two main reservations amongst them are the reservation of a certain percentage of the seats for the Lambadia sub-caste of Banjaras, and the reservation of a certain percentage of the seats for women belonging to Banjara families. The internal reservation issue has caused significant controversy, with some voices claiming that the reservation is discriminatory and impedes the BJP’s chances of electoral success.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is the administrative body responsible for civic amenities and some infrastructural assets of the Greater Bengaluru metropolitan area. It is the fourth largest municipal corporation in India, being responsible for a population of approximately 6.8 million people in an area of 741 km2. The BBMP is divided into 10 zones, with each zone administered by a zonal commissioner. It is responsible for carrying out a variety of civic functions such as water and sewage management, road repairs, among others.

The elections in Karnataka are set to be a decisive one, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hoping to gain more votes and consolidate their power. The Banjaras, however, have their own demands that the BJP needs to address if it hopes to capitalize on their votes. It is yet to be seen if the Banjaras will support the BJP or if their internal reservation policy will be a spanner in the party’s arithmetic of gains.