National

Can BJP use the turbulence in Cauvery basin constituencies to its advantage?

Anil Urs Mandya/Mysuru | Updated on April 16, 2019 Published on April 15, 2019

In Karnataka, the constituencies along the Cauvery — Mysore-Kodagu, Hassan, Mandya and Chamarajanagar — are on the boil with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trying to storm the Congress-Janata Dal Secular bastion.

The river basin constituencies, rich sugarcane, tobacco and silk growing regions, normally come alive only when water in the delta runs dry or Tamil Nadu demands its share. But this time around, it is a different story to narrate.

Though these Lok Sabha constituencies are traditionally a battleground of the Congress and JDS, the BJP’s support base has been growing in recent years. Also, this time around the Congress and JDS have formed an alliance. The tension within the alliance between the formal rivals has given space to BJP.

Looking at the scenario, BJP in turn has begun to exploit it effectively to expand its influence in this Vokkaliga community stronghold.

Also, a rash of Income Tax (I-T) Department searches on engineers and contractors allegedly close to JDS and Congress leaders have put the alliance on edge. Both the Congress and JDS held dharnas and cried foul claiming that the BJP was misusing official machinery.

“Look at BJP, which has supported Sumalatha (wife of late Kannada actor Ambarish) as independent candidate creating a buzz in Mandya. Similarly, after winning a lone assembly seat in Hassan district, BJP has roped in disgruntled former Congress minister A Manju, and is trying to expand its influence. While in Mysore-Kodagu, it is working hard to lure rural voters as it is comfortable in urban areas. In Chamarajanagar, again the BJP has fielded former Congressman V Srinivasprasad,” explained C Sumukh, hotelier in Mandya.

In addition, there is the dynastic politics in Hassan, Mandya and Tumkur. Karnataka’s PWD minister H D Revanna’s son Prajwal is contesting in Hassan, chief minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil K in Mandya and family patriarch H D Deve Gowda from neighbouring Tumkuru.

Mandya

Mandya, known as sugar bowl and also the heart of the Cauvery delta, is bracing for a power-packed election battle between Nikhil and Sumalatha.

Here it is Congress-JDS combine vs Sumalatha with the backing of BJP along with a section of Congress, the Raith Sangha and Amabrish abhimani sangha, (fan following). To counter this, JDS is working out its own strategies here, while the Congress is grappling to contain dissidence in its Mandya cadre with a section of workers unwilling to support Nikhil K.

Here even though Vokkaliga dominates the district, it is the combination of Kurubas, Dalits, Nayakas, and muslims who will determine the winner.

Hassan

A Manju, three-time MLA of the Congress, who had lost to Deve Gowda in 2014 - switched sides and became BJP candidate in Hassan. Manju, had left BJP in 2004 to join the Congress and later became a minister in Congress regime. He has taken on Prajwal.

After initial tiff between JDS and Congress over pre-poll alliance in Hassan constituency, Revanna and his wife, a Zilla Panchyat member, Bhavani have been calling on Congress leaders in the district to bury the hatchet and support Prajwal. Now after a series of meetings and with the intervention of Siddaramaiah, agitated Congress party workers appear to have been pacified.

This Vokkaliga dominated constituency has sizeable Kuruba, Jains, Nayaka and other minority communities, who determine the winner. Since both candidates are Vokkaligas now all eyes are on as to who will support whom.

Mysore-Kodagu

Congress-JDS alliance has fielded C H Vijayashankar (a Kuruba), former BJP leader who had represented this constituency twice. While BJP has fielded sitting MP, Pratap Simha (a Vokkaliga).

Ever since pre-poll alliance was formed, the constituency is witnessing rebellion similar to Mandya. Here the JDS cadre, who have traditionally fought the Congress for their political survival, have been vocal in opposing the alliance.

The Congress-JDS rivalry here has become more pronounced after former chief minister Siddaramaiah quit the JDS and joined the Congress about 13 years ago, has now taken the caste over tones, driving a deeper wedge between the parties. The Kurubas, the community to which Siddaramaiah belongs, were pitted against the Vokkaligas, who, by and large, stand by the JDS.

Even though the constituency comprises a substantial number of Lingayats, Kurubas, Dalits, Nayakas, Brahmins, and Muslims, here the Vokkaliga vote plays a crucial role.

Chamarajanagar

BJP has fielded former Congressman V Srinivasprasad, who is contesting after a gap of 20 years. It is just banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personality and Lingayat community to carry it through. While, Congress candidate R Dhruvanarayan, who has been credited with many developmental works, is banking on his own achievement and support of five party MLAs of Congress-JDS coalition since there is no rift in the coalition like Mysuru, Mandya and Hassan districts.

Published on April 15, 2019
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