While parties are pushing the ‘development card’, voters may also have a few aces.
Udupi falls in Coastal Karnataka and is a BJP stronghold. In fact, this area is called ‘BJP’s Hindutva factory’. Of the 19 assembly seats covering the three coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada, the BJP has 16 MLAs who won from the region.
BJP candidate and one of the 75 new faces fielded by the party in this election, Yashpal Suvarna is known as the poster boy of the anti-hijab campaign.
Suvarna insisted that the hijab is a ‘non-issue’. He says that people want to see Udupi as Karnataka’s next educational, medical and pilgrimage destination and do not want to fall into the trap of hijab-like controversies that have been thrown up by anti-social groups like the Popular Front of India (PFI).
“We are going to the people and focussing on how the double engine government of BJP can deliver the best for the voters. Hijab is not an election issue. Uniform was decided keeping in mind that all children should get equal education, equal opportunities and uniformity. A group of anti-social elements tried to instigate it,” said Suvarna.
The Congress has also focused its campaign on exposing BJP’s corrupt government and anti-people policies. Congress candidate Prasadraj Kanchan is also a new candidate in Udupi.
“It is political parties like BJP and SDPI who are trying to make hijab an issue. The people of Coastal Karnataka feel they have more serious issues to worry about. They want a good government at the Center and in the state and that is what the Congress can provide,” said UT Khadar, a senior Congressman and sitting MLA from Ullal constituency near Mangaluru.
Suvarna is confident that the voters of her constituency will vote in favor of her and the BJP.
“We (BJP) are part of an organization to protect Hindutva. Hindutva is not an agenda, it is my duty. I am a Hindu first. Those who are against hindutva and speak against my country don’t deserve to live in india… those who are making hijab issue they don’t want their women to be educated because women will come to know that PM What are you doing. Narendra Modi And that means development,” he said.
However, Khadar of Congress opposes it.
“People are smart. The minorities have decided that they will not fall prey to this trick of the BJP. Whatever they try to muster, such things don’t matter to anyone. People, not just the minorities, voted against the BJP Will do and see that Congress comes to power and they can lead a peaceful life.
In December 2020, Udupi saw major unrest after a government girls’ pre-university college did not allow six Muslim girls to wear hijab (headscarf) while attending classes. Suvarna, vice-president of the college’s college development committee, along with sitting Udupi MLA Raghupati Bhat, made a ‘dress code’ mandatory for all students, which included removing the hijab while attending class.
However, in Udupi – which has over 2.16 lakh voters – the hijab issue is still simmering. Several voters News18 spoke to said that while they would like to vote for a candidate who can give them good roads, solve their water issues and provide employment opportunities, the hijab is definitely on their mind. I will be there when they vote.
It has been 16 months since PUC student Shaheen was shaken by widespread protests in Udupi over her hijab.
As she expressed her views on the issue, she requested that she not be photographed. “I used to feel scared while going to college wearing the hijab. This time, I am a first time voter in Karnataka elections and hijab will surely be an important factor while casting my vote.
Shagufta, a mother of two, says that hijab is her right and no one can forcefully demand a change in her dress. “It is part of our religion, our culture. Just as we don’t comment on any other community or force them to dress or behave in a particular way, we expect the same kind of freedom of choice to practice our religion,” she said. told News18.
Shaista, Shaista, sister of Shagufta and a mother of two, says that before exercising her franchise, she will keep in mind the issues that Udupi has faced in the last few years, including the hijab controversy.
“All of us should think well before voting. We should also keep our future in mind. Hijab is our right and as Indians we expect to live in harmony and respect. Hijab should not have become an issue and we should think carefully so that in future also we do not face such problems.
Namrata Shetty is another first time voter and student. She thinks that the hijab issue has been unnecessarily blown up and young voters like her should vote for a good leader who does his best instead of harping on communal issues.
“The issue of hijab is not important in this election. Youth should focus on electing a strong youth leader who will give us development and take Udupi forward.
Another PUC student, Vilasini Shetty, echoes Namrata’s views. She felt that this election in Udupi might be thought of in the shadow of the Hijab issue, but it was important for her to vote for a party and a candidate who would develop Udupi into a world-class city.
“I want to see my city develop like other metros and become a great center for education, banking, technology and medical science. We are going back 30 years by talking about hijab. This election vote for the right leader” Must be about giving what will take Udupi forward 50 years
Ansar Ahmed, a social worker working in Udupi, claims that this hot issue was instigated by BJP’s Yashpal Suvarna.
“Every Muslim voter will think about the hijab controversy before casting their vote. It is like taking away the rights of Muslim women. No one will remain silent when someone tries to snatch away the veil, especially when it is embedded in our religious fabric. If a man touches the veil of a woman, she will raise her voice in protest, that is what is going to happen,” he explains.
Sharath, a fruit seller near the market area of Udupi, wants to vote for the party that will keep Coastal Karnataka peaceful. “We are simple people who just want to live in peace and choose a government which is beneficial for the people. Haven’t you heard about the killings of people from RSS, BJP and PFI? We want peace and my vote is for that. is for the candidate who can guarantee me the same.
SDPI candidate Hanif Muloor from Kaup says how hijab is a constitutional right of a Muslim woman and she will fight for it till the end.
“Irrespective of whether we win or lose the elections, we will continue our fight for our rights. Wearing hijab is a constitutional right. People should think about this in this election. SDPI is contesting 100 seats in Karnataka and the issues they are spearheading their campaign are the decisions taken by BJP on Hijab, Halal and removal of reservation for Muslims.
He said, ‘Our direct fight is with the BJP. Congress is telling people that if they vote for SDPI, it will benefit BJP and people don’t believe it.
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