It is a battle of nerves between Congress, BJP in Chikodi-Sadalga

The by-election to Chikodi-Sadalga Assembly constituency, scheduled for August 21, is turning into a battle of nerves for both the Congress and the BJP. Neither party has left any stone unturned in winning over the voters.

The Congress has fielded Ganesh Hukkeri, member of Zilla Panchayat and son of Prakash Hukkeri who vacated the Assembly seat after being elected to Parliament from Chikodi constituency, necessitating the by-election.

The BJP candidate is Mahantesh Kavatgimath, MLC and bête noire of Prakash Hukkeri. Both Kavatgimath and Ganesh Hukkeri are contesting the Assembly election for the first time.

It’s a direct contest between the Congress and the BJP. Both the candidates and leaders of their respective parties have been campaigning extensively to beat their rivals in the show of strength. In contrast, the other seven candidates in the fray are subdued.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, KPCC president G Parameshwara, Gulbarga MP Mallikarjun Kharge, ministers H K Patil, M B Patil, Satish Jarkiholi and others canvassed for Ganesh Hukkeri.

Union minister H N Ananth Kumar, former chief ministers B S Yeddyurappa and Jagadish Shettar, former deputy chief minister K S Eshwarappa, BJP State president Pralhad Joshi and other leaders sought votes for Kavatgimath.

Ganesh Hukkeri is banking on the legacy of his father and the development carried out during his tenure as minister and MLA. For Prakash Hukkeri who got elected many a time from Sadalga before winning twice from the Chikodi-Sadalga seat after delimitation, it’s a matter of prestige to ensure his son’s victory and that the Congress party not only retains the constituency but his dominance is also cemented.

Prakash Hukkeri had reluctantly contested the Lok Sabha election after being pressured by the party. Now, the by-election has come us an ideal opportunity for him to build the political career of his son.

Kavatgimath, on the other hand, is contesting the Assembly election as if he has nothing to lose. As an MLC, he raised issues pertaining to the constituency.

He is riding on the apparent popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his own extensive campaigning and that by the BJP leaders. The BJP sees as a positive sign the fact that the Congress’ vote share had come down in the Chikodi-Sadalga Assembly constituency in the Lok Sabha elections.

While both the Congress and the BJP candidates are Lingayat, the combined votes of other communities are about thrice the Lingayats’. The Chikodi-Sadalga constituency has about 1,91,413 voters — 98,568 male and 92,835 female. Among the 45,000 Lingayat voters, 20,000 are Panchamsali, 3,000 Jangam and 13,478 Banajiga. Besides, there are 20,000 Kuruba voters, 17,000 Maratha, 27,000 Muslim, 28,000 SC/ST and 30,100 Jains.

Other candidates in the fray are the Bhimgouda Shankar Khot of the Janata Dal (United), B Venkatesh of the Karnadu Party, Appasaheb Kurane of the Sarvodaya Janata Party and Independents Mohan Gurappa Motannavar, Santosh Yashwant Raijadhav, Sachin Kallappa Algur and Jitendra Subhash Nerli.

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