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With no clear agenda, Karnataka by-poll is being fought on caste lines

Anil Urs Bengaluru | Updated on November 25, 2019

With no clear development agenda or performance to show, political parties in Karnataka are now busy wooing voters on caste lines for the by-elections which are scheduled for December 5.

The by-elections were necessitated after 17 MLAs (14 from Congress and 3 JD(S)) quit their seats to join the BJP party. The Election Commission has deferred polls to two seats and is conducting elections for 15 seats on December 5. The votes will be counted on December 9.

With 10 days to go for polling, campaigning is gaining momentum with parties roping in State leaders and enrolling regional community elders for on-the-ground campaigning.

In Bengaluru — both urban and rural districts have major chunk of seats going for polls. It is here after a long-time caste is playing a major role in campaigning. In this region the Vokkaligas are out to claim their old fiefdom while other backward group want to retain their hold.

Chikkaballapur, once a stronghold of Janata Dal Secular (JD(S)) is seeing a pitched battle between BJP’s K Sudhakar against Congress’ M Anjanappa and JDS’ N Radhakrishna.

In Hoskote, BJP’s rebel candidate Sharat Bache Gowda (son of BN Bache Gowda, BJP MP from Chikkaballapura) is giving sleepless nights to BJP’s official candidate MTB Nagaraj. Congress has fielded an unknown backward class candidate, while JD(S) in the name of Vokkaliga consolidation has not fielded any candidate but is supporting Sharat Bache Gowda.

KR Pura, the constituency which houses IT hub, is seeing heightened activity of backward class struggle as it has many villages in the city’s periphery. Yeshwanthpur is also going the KR Pura way with all parties fielding backward class but JD(S) has gone for a Vokkaliga candidate.

Mahalakshmi Layout is witnessing major battle for the three-time MLA representing JD(S) has moved over to BJP. Both Congress and JD(S) are likely to see some unity to defeat BJP’s K Gopalaiah. In Shivaji Nagar, a constituency dominated by minority voters, BJP has gone with a Hindu candidate, while Congress and JD(S) has opted for a minority candidates.

As constituencies are spread across the State. It is in old Mysore area where Krishnarajpet and Hunsur seats have raised eye brows. Both constituencies are JD(S) strongholds and are seeing triangular fight. In Krishnarajpet, KB Chandrashekar of Congress is contesting disqualified MLA, KR Narayana Gowda of the BJP and Devaraj of the JD(S).

In neighbouring Hunsur, the campaigning is witnessing new twists and turns every day. Here Kuruba community, which has stood firmly behind former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah now will have to see whether it would stand with him or oblige Congress turncoat AH Vishwanath contesting from BJP.

In Gokak, Athani and Kagwad all in Belagavi district, it is a battle of Lingayats and Scheduled Tribes. In Gokak, the fortunes of Ramesh Jarkiholi - a prominent Scheduled Tribes leader is on test. He is pitted against his own brother Lakhan Jarkiholi from the Congress party and JDS has fielded BJP rebel Ashok Pujar.

In Athani, Mahesh Kumathalli, a crossover candidate from Congress to BJP has been fielded by side-lining Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi. While Congress has fielded GB Mangasuli.

In Kagwad, it is battle of Lingayats. Raju Kage, a senior BJP leader and four time MLA after being denied a seat has shifted to the Congress and is pitted against Shrimant Patil who moved from Congress to BJP.

In the central Karnataka districts going for polls it is clear fight between Lingayats and backward classes while in Uttara Kannada district – Yellapura Congress has fielded Bhimanna Naik against BJP’s candidate Shivaram Hebbar.

In Hirekeruru here it is a battle of lingayats with Congress candidate BH Bannikod, a former MLA and a party loyalist taking on disqualified legislator BC Patil, a police-officer-turned politician now with BJP.

Ranebennur constituencies located in the Lingayat belt which was once a Congress bastion before the BJP made inroads. Here a direct fight between former Speaker and Congress candidate KB Koliwad and the BJP’s Arun Kumar Guthur.

Vijayanagar in the iron ore rich Bellary district is seeing high profile contest. Here BJP has opted to field disqualified legislator, BS Anand Singh while the Congress fielded KPCC general secretary Venkat Rao Ghorpade.

Published on November 25, 2019

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