A keen contest is in the offing in the Shimoga parliamentary constituency, where it appears to be a stiff contest between the BJP and the JD(S), with the Congress candidate ‘lagging in the race’.
The BJP is going all out to win the seat by fielding former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa from his home turf. But the JD(S) is leaving no stone unturned to snatch the seat from the BJP (B Y Raghavendra is the sitting MP). The party has fielded Geetha Shivrajkumar, the daughter of former chief minister S Bangarappa and the wife of actor Shivrajkumar.
The BJP, which had gone seatless in the district during the previous Assembly polls following the creation of KJP by Yeddyurappa, hopes to regain its lost hold here.
The Shimoga seat was represented in the Lok Sabha by Bangarappa four times. The JD(S) is banking on the goodwill in the constituency for the late leader and the pro-people schemes implemented by him during his tenure as chief minister.
Bhandary, who has been considered as the ‘candidate of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi,’ is no pushover. He is campaigning hard and may spring a surprise.
Unlike in the past, Yeddyurappa has distanced himself from making personal attacks or criticising his opponents so far during the campaign.
Apart from the fact that a woman candidate is in the fray, he seems to have realised that personal attacks or criticism may harm his prospects. He is asking voters to back him on the basis of development works implemented in the district during his tenure as chief minister. Yeddyurappa is also hoping to cash in on the ‘Modi wave’.
Edigas and Lingayats hold the key in the constituency, given their numbers, though it is not the forte of any single community.
While Yeddyurappa belongs to the Lingayat community, Geetha belongs to the Ediga community. Bhandary is a bunt, not a dominant community in the district. Only the Byndoor Assembly segment (in Udupi district) has a sizeable number of Bunts. So, all parties look to cash in on the caste factor here.
Though BJP is confident of gaining the support of Lingayats, Brahmins, it is sceptical that the minorities may not throw their weight behind it.
Yeddyurappa told Deccan Herald, “I am confident of getting support from the Hindu communities. We might not get much support from the minorities. But, that will not stop us from emerging victorious. The JD(S) and Congress are fighting for the runner-up position.”
The JD(S) has been campaigning extensively since March 24, the day Geetha filed her nomination papers, in all the eight Assembly segments. Apart from Shivrajkumar, actors Upendra, Sanjana, Yogesh and Amoolya have campaigned for Geetha so far.
The family members of Bangarappa are also canvassing for her. Shakuntala, wife of Bangarappa, is likely to be part of the campaigning in the near future.
The JD(S)’ roadshows are drawing huge crowds across the district as film stars are part of it. The JD(S) is looking to make sure that the crowds transform into votes.
Banking on female voters
Actors Ravichandran, Sri Murali, Jai Jagadish and others are likely to campaign for Geetha in the coming days. The party is looking to bank on the fact that there are more female voters than male here.
Bhandary is campaigning in the constituency with his own team. Dissident activities within the party and resentment among a section of the party workers over the selection of candidate, who is considered an ‘outsider’ by a majority of the voters, may harm the Congress’ prospects. Even the voters of Byndoor do not seem to know him.
Bhandary is highlighting the ‘achievements’ of the UPA government and the Siddaramaiah-led State government during campaigning.