Key aides of CM, BSY take over campaign

In Nanjangud, Congress, BJP projecting Lingayat-Dalit unity to garner votes

Key aides of CM, BSY take over campaign

 The Nanjangud Assembly constituency is witnessing a high-voltage campaign with two national parties, the Con­gress and the BJP, pulling out all stops to woo the electorate in the upcoming bypoll — dubbed as the semi-finals ahead of the crucial Assembly elections next year. 

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has been personally overseeing the ruling Congress’ campaign, while the BJP camp is led by state party president B S Yeddyurappa, who has been camping in Mysuru for close to two weeks now. Winning the seat has become a matter of pride and prestige for both the leaders. So much so that the bypoll is of late seen more as a contest between Siddaramaiah and Yeddyurappa than the candidates of the two parties.

Veteran politician V Srinivas Prasad, who quit the Congress a few months ago for being dropped him from the state cabinet, is the BJP candidate. The Congress has fielded Kalale Keshavamurthy.

The JD(S) has chosen not to contest the bypoll for the reasons best know to it. Keshavamurthy was a prominent JD(S) leader in the constituency. He walked over to the Congress to take on Prasad, who is a prominent Dalit leader in the old Mysuru region. The bypoll was necessitated due to the resignation of Prasad as Congress MLA. The constituency is reserved for the Scheduled Castes.

So fierce is the campaign by the two parties that their candidates are hardly to be noticed. Both the parties have taken over the campaign and it is run by key trusted aides of Siddaramaiah and Yeddyurappa. Nine ministers and a host of Congress leaders, including legislators, have been crisscrossing the constituency in the campaign.

Public Works Minister H C Mahadevappa, a close follower of Siddaramaiah, has been given overall in-charge of the Congress campaign. Siddaramaiah has plunged into the campaign on Friday, and is slated to camp in Mysuru for the next one week to campaign extensively.

Shobha-Somanna at helm

Over a dozen former ministers of the BJP led by Yeddyurappa's close confidants Shobha Karandlaje and V Somanna are slogging for the party. 

The saffron party has pooled in its key workers from across the state. It has tapped social media to attract young voters. WhatsApp groups of the young voters are being created in every booth to woo their support. Though Yeddyurappa is shuttling between Nanjangud and Gundlupet, which is also witnessing bypoll, he is focusing on the former.

The Nanjangud bypoll is said to be an acid test of Siddaramaiah's own popularity as well as that of his government. For, Nanjangud is part of the chief minister's home district, Mysuru, and many in his party believe that the bypoll result would set the tone for the next year’s Assembly polls. 

For Yeddyurappa, it is the first big test after taking over as the state BJP chief. Prasad's victory also helps BJP to garner the support of Dalit vote bank, which might provide the much-needed winning edge to the party in many constituencies in the region.

While Keshavamurthy, who hails from a humble background, is relying on door-to-door campaign, his party leaders have taken to roadshows. Keshavamurthy is seeking votes with a promise to take up developmental works. The BJP candidate is mainly depending on roadshows, apparently due to his ill-health. He is mainly seeking votes citing ‘unfair’ treatment meted out to him by Siddaramaiah.

Prasad normally accompanies Yeddyurappa in roadshows through main thoroughfares of the temple townof Nanjangud, a move said to be aimed at projecting Dalit-Lingayat unity, which the BJP wants to achieve in this highly caste-conscious constituency.

The Congress too has tried to present a similar caste combination by projecting Mahadevappa and former KPCC chief Allum Veerabhadrappa as key campaign managers. The two communities are dominant in this Assembly segment, and they hold the key in the election.

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