Priyank banking on dad's name

Candidate of ruling BJP may eclipse son rise in Chittapur byelections

Priyank banking on dad's name

 
The fertile black cotton soil of the region is known for producing the best quality of tur and jowar, and the immense limestone stocks have brought it the sobriquet ‘cement bowl of Karnataka.’ The taluk once had the distinction of hosting Asia’s biggest cement unit (which was run by ACC). Yet, Chittapur makes hardly any news.

However, in the last 15 months, one of the most backward taluks of the State has constantly been in the news. Ever since Congress stalwart Mallikarjun Kharge threw his hat into the ring from the newly-delimited Chittapur (SC) Assembly constituency, following the dereservation of his Gurmitkal constituency, it has become the centre of political attraction.

In the 2008 Assembly polls, the Congressmen, during their campaign, told the people of Chittapur that they would have the privilege of sending a chief minister. Although Kharge won by a margin of over 17,000 votes, his party was humbled in the State.

However, the voters of Chittapur had surely not dreamt that they would have to go to the hustings three times in less than 15 months.

Kharge’s dynasty

They voted for Kharge once again in the last Lok Sabha election from Gulbarga (SC) constituency, leading to his resignation from the Assembly. Now, they are being asked to vote for Kharge’s son Priyank Kharge in the by-polls. If they oblige, they will prove their loyalty not only to the Congress, but also to Kharge’s dynasty.

For Mallikarjun Kharge, fighting elections successfully is almost a hobby. From 1972 to 2009, he fought nine Assembly elections in a row. He was also elected in the Parliamentary elections, and has had the rarest record of remaining undefeated.

The question now is this: Will he be able to continue the winning spree and pass on the political mantle to his son who is contesting bypolls for the first time?  The matriculate Priyank Kharge is hoping to cash in on his father’s popularity. He owns assets worth Rs 5 crore.

Heartburn

There is a heartburn among Congressmen over the systematic promotion of the progeny. Besides, the BJP men, who could not trounce Kharge in the last few elections, feel that now, there is a chance for the party to humble Kharge, junior!

BJP candidate Walmiki Nayak Kamalu who had given Mallikarjun Kharge sleepless nights in the last elections, is now contesting against his son. Having lost two elections, he is riding a sympathy wave.

Moreover, a section of the society feels that since the BJP is in power, its MLA may bring some benefits to the constituency. Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, days before the elections were announced, laid the foundation stone for a number of development projects costing hundreds of crores of rupees.

The JD(S) has fielded Basavaraj Bennur who has been elected to the Zilla Panchayat. Though the senior leaders of the party were reluctant to field any candidate, it has reluctantly decided to field Bennur, due to pressure from the local unit.

There are nine candidates in the fray including Ayyappa Ramtirth of Bahujan Samaj Party.

There are 1,86,344 voters including 92,238 men and 94,106 women. All the 201 polling stations are either sensitive or hyper-sensitive.

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