NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily today described early trends suggesting a BJP victory in the Karnataka Assembly polls as "quite disappointing and attributed his party's loss to wrong caste management.
The Congress should not have raised the Lingayat issue before the polls, Moily said, adding that the party had not managed caste equations well in its electoral strategy.
He also defended Congress president Rahul Gandhi and praised him for engaging in a positive campaign as against the negative campaign carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah in the run-up to the May 12 election.
The BJP today appeared headed for a simple majority in the Karnataka Assembly, with its candidates leading in 115 constituencies, leaving the ruling Congress way behind, according to trends in 220 of the state's 222 seats.
The result is quite disappointing. Had it been on a development ground or a social justice ground, the Congress should have had won. I think somewhere there was something wrong with caste management in Karnataka. That plays an important role, Moily told news channels.
The BJP's "negative campaign" had won the election for the party, the Congress leader added .
They (Modi and Shah) never raised development issues. But at the same time, we should acknowledge somewhere we have not managed the caste equations very well, he added.
Moily said a section of party members had been voicing concern at various levels over the Congress taking up the Lingayat minority status issue.
...Maybe that is one factor that has backfired on us. We need to examine that. I think on the Vokkaliga front also... somewhere we did not handle it well," he said, adding that there was need for introspection.
The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka had written to the Central government, recommending that it consider representations of the Lingayat and Veerashaiva community for recognition as a religious minority.
The Karnataka government had made the demand after the state cabinet decided to recommend to the Centre that a religious minority status be granted to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats.
The decision was seen by the BJP and other political opponents as a move by the Siddaramaiah government to cut into the vote bank of BJP, which banks significantly on the support of the Lingayat community.