Unlike the previous general elections, the Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha constituency (SC reserved) has assumed significance for many reasons this time.
The election this time is not merely a contest between the nominees of prominent parties. It will also be an acid test for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his three cabinet colleagues from Mysore and Chamarajanagar districts, all belonging to the same Lok Sabha segment. Siddaramaiah represents Varuna, Revenue Minister V Sreenivas Prasad represents Nanjangud and PWD Minister Dr H C Mahadevappa is a legislator from T Narsipur.
Co-operation Minister H S Mahadeva Prasad represents Gundlupet under the Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha constituency. Sitting MP R Dhruvanarayan, who is seeking re-election as Congress nominee, takes on traditional rivals like A R Krishnamurthy (ARK) of BJP and M Shivanna (Kote) of JD(S). A total of 14 candidates are in the fray.
Dhruvanarayan defeated Krishnamurthy in his maiden parliamentary elections in 2009 by a thin margin of 4,002 votes. He is banking on the development works initiated by him. The recent survey by Bangalore Political Action Committee (B-PAC), which ranked him as the fifth best MP in the country, has come as a shot in the arm for him.
Dhruvanarayan, who is considered affable and accessible, claims that he has made ample use of funds under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in curbing unemployment. The launch of works on widening National Highway-212 (Mysore-Nanjangud road), covering the interiors of Gundlupet town, and the Mysore-T Narsipur and T Narsipur-Kollegal roads at an estimated cost of Rs 434 crore are some of the initiatives that he claims credit for.
Krishnamurthy is banking on the sympathy wave (for losing three consecutive elections - twice to the Assembly and once to the Lok Sabha), his works as the chairman of Dr B R Ambedkar Development Corporation during the previous BJP government in the State, to connect with the voters. His father B Rachaiah was a reputed politician, who had served as Governor of Kerala. Rachaiah was also an MP from the same constituency.
Shivanna, who is testing his luck again from the JD(S), claims to have a better chance this time, with the support of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) that enjoys support from a large number of Muslim voters. The Chalavadi Mahasabha, led by retired officer K Shivaram, has a considerable backing in the region and it is supporting the JD(S) this time. Shivaram is contesting the elections from Bijapur on a JD(S) ticket.
Dhruvanarayan and Krishnamurthy belong to the ‘balagai’ (right hand) sub-sect, while Shivanna is from the ‘edagai’ (left hand) sub-sect. They have 2.5 lakh and 1.5 lakh voters, respectively, out of the total electorate of 15.55 lakh. Lingayats account for 3.8 lakh voters, minorities: one lakh and Nayakas: 70,000, to name a few.