Central Karnataka: Congress hopes to retain grip

Central Karnataka: Congress hopes to retain grip

Central Karnataka, which consists of seven districts, is all set to witness an interesting fight between major political parties, with the BJP and the JD(S) making all efforts to end the ruling Congress' dominance over the region.

The Congress had an upper hand over the 44 Assembly constituencies, spread across Davangere, Chitradurga, Tumakuru, Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Ramanagaram and Bengaluru Rural districts. But, the ruling party is now grappling with an anti-incumbency factor and infighting in many of these districts.

The Congress, however, is leaving no stone unturned to retain its hold over the region. The party plans to overcome the anti-incumbency feeling by introducing fresh faces where its sitting MLAs have a poor image.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led Congress is worried that its controversial move to accord a minority religion status to the Veerashaiva-Lingayat (Basava tatva) faith may backfire on it in the region for Veerashaivas, who are opposing the move, are said to be more in number. So much so that Congress veteran Shamanur Shivashankarappa and his son, Horticulture Minister S S Mallikarjuna, are miffed with the decision. Siddaramaiah, however, managed to appease and retain them in the party fold.

The party hopes that the 'Bhagya' schemes, mainly meant for the backward classes, SCs and STs, who are said to be in sizeable number in the region, will work in its favour in the polls. The Opposition parties, especially the BJP, is working overtime to cash in on the Congress' weakness. But, the BJP's presence is, by and large, confined to Davangere, Chitradugra, Tumakuru and some pockets of the other four districts. The party has not been able to win a single seat in Chikkaballapur ever since its formation there in 2007.

One of the main reasons for the BJP's poor performance in 2013 was that the KJP led by former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa managed to eat into the saffron party's support base. Both the Congress and the JD(S) reaped the benefit of it. Now, with Yeddyurappa back in the BJP, the party hopes to regain its strength in the region.

The BJP is running a sustained campaign in Davangere, Chitradurga and Tumakuru with its star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and party president Amit Shah addressing rallies in these regions. It is said that the party is planning to field its ST leader B Sriramulu from Molakalmuru Constituency in Chitradurga in order to consolidate the ST votes.

Though the BJP does not have a strong base in Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Ramanagaram and Bengaluru Rural districts, the party is hoping that some of its senior leaders from these districts B N Bache Gowda (Hoskote), S N Krishnaiah Setty (Malur), and C P Yogeeshwara (Channapatna) would help win a couple of seats for the party.

The JD(S), which had put up an impressive performance in 2013 in Tumakuru winning as many as six of 11 seats, including Koratagere, where KPCC president G Parameshwara was defeated, appears to be giving a tough fight to the two national parties. The party has already announced candidates for most of the seats in these districts.

Drinking water scarcity is a major issue in the region. With the ruling party failing to keep its promise on the Yettinahole project, which is meant to supply drinking water to Tumakuru, Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Ramanagaram and Bengaluru Rural districts, and coconut, acrecanut and sericulture farmers seeing red at the government for not coming to their aid, the BJP and the JD(S), have been raking up these issues for electoral gains.

 

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