Where politics is obsession rather than compulsion

Where politics is obsession rather than compulsion

 Mandya and politics are inseparable. While people of other districts do politicking only during elections, people of Mandya talk, eat, drink and breathe politics. 

Politicians from this district have made a mark in the neighbouring districts of Mysore, Bangalore and also in far-off places like Shimoga. However, a majority of voters in the district oblige politicians from the neighbouring Hassan district, thanks to the Vokkaliga pride.

The constituency has seen little development despite local politicians scaling great heights. Political power is shared between only the Congress and the Janata Parivar in the district. Except winning a few elections in the local bodies, the BJP is yet to open its account in the higher legislative bodies. In the Lok Sabha elections so far, the maximum votes garnered by the BJP is around 1.5 lakh and it has been maintaining a consistency of around one lakh.

In 18 elections, including by-elections, from 1952 to 2013, to the Lok Sabha, the Congress has won 13 times, Janata Dal twice, Praja Socialist Party, Janata Party and Janata Dal (Secular) have won once each. M K Shivananjappa represented the constituency four times, S M Krishna and Ambarish thrice, G Madegowda and K Chikalingaiah twice, K V Shankaregowda, Krishna, N Chaluvarayaswamy and Ramya once each.

While the lowest margin for victory was 5,311 votes for K Chikkalingaiah of the Congress against M Srinivas of Bharatiya Lok Dal in 1977, the highest was 1,80,523 for Ambarish, the then candidate of Janata Dal against G Madegowda of the Congress in 1998. As the constituency, which includes KR Nagar Assembly segment in Mysore district after delimitation, is an agrarian economy, the problems are related to the farming community and mostly rural in nature. As Maddur, Mandya and Srirangapatna towns are on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, urban development has been haphazard. Heavy industries that were established before Independence and during the early Independence days are either ailing or closed. No major industry has come up in recent times.

The education sector has improved due to the efforts of social organisations and the Adichunchanagiri Mutt. However, of late, the quality of education has suffered due to various reasons. People migrate to other places for education as well as jobs. The only development initiative taken by the government for the district in recent times is the establishment of the Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences.

Actor-turned-politician Ramya of the Congress, who won the byelection in 2013, is seeking re-election. Her opponent, C S Puttaraju of the JD(S), a former MLA and an entrepreneur, was her rival in the byelection too. The BJP, which had supported the JD(S) in the byelection, has fielded former chairman and secretary of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and vice-president of Karnataka Rajya Vokkaligara Sangha B Shivalingaiah this time.

While Ramya is fighting a lone battle amidst factionalism in the Congress, the JD(S) is facing the election unitedly. The BJP has for the first time taken the election seriously. It is banking on the goodwill enjoyed by the family of its candidate.

In the byelection, Ramya got solid support from her party and the State government. As the byelection was held only in Mandya and Bangalore Rural constituencies, the State ministers representing all castes and communities camped here to ensure Ramya’s victory. The demise of Ramya’s foster father R T Narayan and some unfortunate comments about her lineage evoked brought in sympathy votes for her.

 This time, in the absence of district in-charge Minister Ambarish, who is recuperating in a foreign country, Ramya is having a tough time dealing with the factions. But, the voters do not have any complaints against her. It is important for Ambarish, former chief minister S M Krishna and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for the Congress to win the seat. 

On the contrary, during the byelection, nothing was going well for the JD(S) despite having five out of eight MLAs, from this Lok Sabha constituency limits. Apart from over-confidence, factionalism cost the JD(S) dear. Now, the JD(S) is not leaving any stone unturned in regaining the seat. The party supremo H D Deve Gowda and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy are leading the party’s efforts in this direction. The byelection was held as JD(S) MP N Cheluvarayaswamy had resigned, after his election to the State Assembly in 2013.

The BJP may improve its vote share and may eat into the votes of the Congress and the JD(S). So, the margin of victory is likely to reduce to around 20,000 from the 68,000 in the byelection.

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