Billava community neglected in Election representation

12:53 PM, Monday, April 30th, 2018

Narayana GuruMangalur : This election may go downwards for congress and Bjp as Dakshina kannada and Udupi district almost neglected major Billava community. Billavas, who form a major chunk of the population in coastal Karnataka, are upset over the “injustice” meted out to them by the Congress and the BJP. Following the announcement of candidates by both the parties, the community feels it has been given only token representation.

Of the 13 constituencies in undivided Dakshina Kannada, the BJP has fielded two (one each in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi) and Congress three (one in Dakshina Kannada and two in Udupi) from the community.

Sri Narayana Guru, who worked for the social uplift of backward Ezhava community in Kerala, is a revered leader of the Billavas in Karnataka. The Sri Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), founded by Sri Narayana Guru, besides improving the quality of life of backward communities in Kerala, came to have its political arm through the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena in 2016, now an ally of the National Democratic Alliance.

Akhila Bharata Billava Union organising secretary Sadanand Poojary told The Hindu that both the parties use Billavas to strengthen their base and ignore them when it comes to giving representation. Claiming Billavas form at least 30% of the population in the two districts, Mr. Poojary said Billavas should have been given at least four seats each by the two parties. On the other hand, the dominant Bunts have gained a lion’s share, with the BJP fielding six and Congress three candidates.

“We plan to consolidate our base and emulate the SNDP,” he said, and added the plan was to bring all backward communities together. Like Billavas, Mogaveeras, Kulals, Devadigas etc., too are neglected by the parties, he added.

The social media is abuzz with posts on “injustice” to the community, with many of them alleging that the BJP wants Billavas to fight for Hindutva, but not for political representation. A Facebook page, Dakshina Kannada Billava Notaa Abhiyana, is one of the many such active groups.

Harikrishna Bantwal, a prominent Billava leader who until recently was with the Congress and was a staunch follower of stalwart B. Janardhana Poojary, said Billavas never vote on caste lines; they are nationalists. “If that was the case, Mr. Poojary should have won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections,” he told The Hindu. Mr. Bantwal, who is now with the BJP, said the present campaign was only to tarnish the BJP’s prospects as no Billava leaders had raised their voice when the community was denied representation by the Congress.

The union is holding Billavara Jagruthi Samavesha at Narayana Guru College here on Tuesday to discuss the issue in detail, Mr. Sadanand Poojary said.

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