Interesting contest on the cards for Srirangapatna seat

Interesting contest on the cards for Srirangapatna seat

New calculations are in place in the Srirangapatna Assembly constituency for the ensuing polls with long-time Raitha Sangha leader K S Nanjundegowda joining the BJP.

Ravindra Srikantaiah of the Congress has become a favourite among JD(S) leaders as they have lost their MLA Ramesh Babu Bandisiddegowda, who rebelled during the Rajya Sabha polls last year. Babu would emerge as the Congress candidate. All these three candidates, who fought the last elections in 2013, are likely to be in the fray this time too, but from different parties.

Compared to the other two contestants, Nanjundegowda, aged 61 years, is a senior to elections. This would be his seventh attempt in the electoral arena. His earlier attempts in elections were in 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2008 as Raitha Sangha candidate and as Sarvodaya Paksha candidate in 2013. In 1994, 1999 and 2004, he emerged runner-up and lost to Vijayalakshmi Bandisiddegowda twice and to Parvathamma Srikantaiah once. In 2004, he lost by a slender margin of 1,238 votes. In that election, M Santhosh, who had contested on a Janata Party ticket and was not a serious contender, had garnered around 13,000 votes. If not for Santhosh, Nanjundegowda would have won the polls in 2004, say political pundits.

Srirangapatna is an unique constituency, which was represented by women in six elections, out of the 13 elections held so far. In fact, since the 1986 bypoll, which was necessitated by the death of MLA A S Bandisiddegowda, when his wife Vijayalakshmi Bandisiddegowda won, the segment has been represented by women only up to 2013, a long 27 years. The total number of years women held the constituency so far is 33 years. Even though there is no women's reservation for the Assembly constituency, even political pundits had started to believe that it is a women's reservation constituency. The other woman MLA from Srirangapatna was Damayanthi Boregowda.

So far all MLAs, except Damayanthi of Bommuru Agrahara, M Srinivas of Chandagalu and B Doddaboregowda of Yathagadahalli (Mandya taluk), all are natives of Arakere village. The segment has been held by the Bandisiddegowda family alone for 25 years since the first election in 1957.

Nanjundegowda, a native of Kadathanalu village in Srirangapatna taluk, had joined the Raitha Sangha in 1982, soon after his graduation. After a split in the Raitha Sangha, he had identified himself with the faction of MLA K S Puttannaiah. He became the chairman of the Pandavapura Sahakara Sakkare Kharkane twice, 2000-03 and 2013-16. Earlier, in 1986, he was also elected president of Kiranguru Mandal Panchayat.

Nanjundegowda was looking for a political party to join and had held several rounds of talks with the JD(S) leaders. However, as JD(S) took in Ravindra Srikantaiah, a supporter of former chief minister S M Krishna, Nanjundegowda opted for the BJP.

Ravindra had emerged second as an independent (Congress rebel) in the 2013 polls as he was denied the Congress ticket at the behest of former minister Ambarish. His grandfather A C Chunchegowda was the first MLA, while his father Srikantaiah had lost the polls four times.

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