In Chitradurga constituency, caste, performance take centre stage

In Chitradurga constituency, caste, performance take centre stage

Chitradurga, which faced drought for most part of the last century, is now bracing for another Lok Sabha election. The constituency, reserved for Scheduled Caste, is witnessing a triangular fight among the BJP, the Congress and the JD(S). 

After much dilly-dallying, the BJP fielded sitting MP Janardhana Swamy while the Congress has preferred B N Chandrappa of Mudigere in Chikmagalur district. Former minister Goolihatti Shekar is contesting the elections on the JD(S) ticket. T D Rajagiri of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Kumbaiah of the JD(U), Mohan Dasari of the Aam Aadmi Party and S Meetya Naik of the Samajwadi Party are other candidates.

Swamy turned out be a sort of ‘VIP candidate’  in the 2009 LS elections. The fact that a tech-savvy person had ventured into the poll fray, that too from a drought-prone constituency, was a mater of debate during last elections. However, there is no such “sheen” this time.

While Swamy’s detractors question his contribution to the constituency in the last five years, the MP has a long list of “achievements” to speak about. The BJP was in power at the time of the previous general elections. The party had two MLAs in Chitradurga LS constituency and none other than the then chief minister B S Yeddyurappa had campaigned for Swamy.

A political novice, he won by an impressive margin of 1.35 lakh votes. There are no signs of such support this time. However, Swamy is trying to hard-sell himself on the basis of development works he has executed. He is also banking on the merger of the KJP, the  BSR Congress with the BJP and the “Modi wave.” 

A large section of voters admit that Swamy is sincere and honest and brought several projects to the district. But there are an equal number of people who describe him a “hi-tech and inaccessible” man. 

There are also glitches at the grassroots level with the KJP and BSR Congress workers finding it tough to go with BJP cadre. Many leaders have kept themselves away from electioneering due to internal bickerings in the BJP.

The caste equation

Shekar is banking on the JD(S)’ traditional voter. He is confident the good work he did when he was the sports minister would fetch him rich dividends this election. Pavagada, the Assembly segment which falls under Chitradurga, has a JD (S) legislator. The segment also has sizeable number of Kunchatiga Vokkaligas and the party is banking on this caste factor. Shekar, compared with his electoral rivals, is considered “easily accessible.”

But the educated class nurse a grouse against him. They have not forgotten his conduct in the Legislative Assembly. Shekar had ripped apart his shirt to give vent to his ire against the Speaker and the BJP. 

Chandrappa, the Congress candidate, is seeking votes on the basis of the UPA government’s performance in the last decade and the Siddaramaiah government in the last 11 months. 

He has the backing of MLAs of Challakere, Hosadurga and Hiriyur, besides ministers H Anjaneya and T B Jayachandra. It was Anjaneya’s decision to field Chandrappa. 

But there are many voters who consider Chandrappa an ‘outsider’ to the district. The votes of SC (Left), Naiks, Yadavas, Vokkaligas and Muslims are crucial for deciding the electoral fortunes of candidates. 

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