Ramanagara: Will ‘secret pact’ work for HDK?

Ramanagara: Will ‘secret pact’ work for HDK?

The talk of a ‘secret pact’ between JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy and Congress campaign committee chief D K Shivakumar —both Vokkaliga leaders — gains credence in the Ramanagara Assembly constituency, where Kumaraswamy is seeking re-election for a fourth term.

The Congress’ decision to field former zilla panchayat president H A Iqbal Hussain seems like a favour returned, because the JD(S) has fielded 67-year-old Narayana Gowda instead of a ‘stronger’ P M Vishwanath to take on Shivakumar in Kanakapura constituency.

This could be seen as an extension of Shivakumar and Kumaraswamy apparently working together to defeat BJP’s C P Yogeeshwara in Channapatna. Kumaraswamy is contesting from Channapatna as well this time.  

The BJP’s choice of candidate for the Ramanagara constituency could work to Kumaraswamy’s advantage. It is said that local BJP leaders are sulking because the party fielded H Lilavathi and not former MP Tejaswini Gowda, who might have given Kumaraswamy a tough fight.

The Ramanagara constituency is a Vokkaliga-dominated segment with three of its legislators going on to become chief ministers — Kengal Hanumanthaiah, H D Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy. Ramanagara was earlier known as Closepet, named after British officer Sir Barry Close. It was renamed Ramanagara by Hanumanthaiah. When Kumaraswamy became chief minister in 2007, Ramanagara was carved out of Bengaluru Rural district to become Karnataka’s 28th district.

No discussion on the constituency is complete without referring to the political rivalry between Congress veteran C M Lingappa and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda, which dates back to 1985. In the election that year, Lingappa lost to Puttaswamy Gowda by about 2,000 votes. In the following 1989 election, Lingappa registered a thumping victory.

The 1994 election marked the entry of Deve Gowda into Ramanagara. Gowda defeated Lingappa and became chief minister. In 1996, Gowda vacated the seat when he became prime minister. In the byelection, Lingappa won back the seat by defeating actor M H Ambareesh, who was then with the regional party. Lingappa continued this winning streak in the 1999 polls.

Kumaraswamy entered Ramanagara in 2004, when he defeated Lingappa by nearly 25,000 votes. Kumaraswamy’s victory margin almost doubled in 2008, when he defeated BJP’s M Rudresha by 47,205 votes. Curiously though, Kumaraswamy’s victory margin dropped to 25,274 votes in the previous 2013 polls when Congress’ Maridevaru finished second. While Kumaraswamy enjoys popularity, he has come under criticism for doing little on the irrigation front. “Kumaraswamy is contesting from Channapatna, but he hardly has time to take care of his own constituency. Show me one lake that Kumaraswamy has filled up in Ramanagara,” Yogeeshwara said during his Channapatna campaigns.

Ramanagara is renowned as Silk City, thanks to the predominant sericulture activity here. Plummeting silk price is a concern among farmers. While Kumaraswamy has planned a sericulture corridor, the Congress wants to set up a reelers’ park here.