Cong ticket for Dr Nalwad heats up poll fray

Jagadish Shettar

With the Congress Party fielding Dr Mahesh Nalwad in the poll fray from Hubballi-Dharwad Central constituency, an intense fight is expected between BJP and Congress in this seat, which has become a stronghold of BJP in last two-and-a-half-decades, with Jagadish Shettar becoming the MLA for five times continuously.

Hubballi-Dharwad Central (erstwhile Hubballi Rural) constituency was earlier a fortress of the Congress, and it was captured by the Janata Party in the late 1970s and 1980s. The BJP raised its head in 1994, and since then, it has been the era of Jagadish Shettar here. As Mr Shettar got higher positions in his political life, this constituency became a seat of prestige in recent elections, and all political parties started putting more and more efforts to win this seat.

Though former MLC Nagaraj Chebbi, Corporator P K Rayanagoudra, and NWKRTC Chairman Sadanand Danganavar were also in the race for the Congress ticket for this constituency, Dr Nalwad is successful in getting it.

He was also the Congress candidate in 2013 elections, and he got maximum votes and vote share for the party, among five elections since 1994. Mr Shettar's winning margin was also least in last four elections, though it was above 17,000 votes.

Preparations in advance

Being a defeated candidate in the previous election, Dr Nalwad began preparations for this year's elections well in advance. On a few occasions, he had raised issues related to poor basic amenities in the constituency, tried to be in touch with the people by helping them to get government facilities, and he was the first among the ticket aspirants to display advertisement boards. He was also active during 'Manemanege Congress' campaign.

In the background of the possibility of a tougher fight this time, the BJP is also engaged in hectic campaigning.

Huge hoardings about Mr Shettar's works were displayed, and Mr Shettar's wife Shilpa Shettar started door-to-door campaigning much before the announcement of elections. The party workers were seen carrying out the party's campaigning initiatives and trying to consolidate BJP votes.

Issues

Dr Nalwad is arguing that the constituency is lagging behind in development, like having good roads and proper water supply, though Mr Shettar represented it for five terms continuously and even became the chief minister.

JD(S) candidate Rajanna Koravi is also using the same issue, and is charging that Mr Shettar did nothing. Leaders of both these parties feel that there is an anti-incumbency wave against Mr Shettar.

Inconvenience being caused during the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) is another weapon being used by the opponents against Mr Shettar.

But, Mr Shettar is saying that the BRTS would be a very good facility when launched, but the State Government was responsible for the delay which caused the inconvenience. He is also claiming credit for various works including underground drainage network, improvement in bulk water supply, 24X7 water supply project, and CRF roads.

Meanwhile, Mr Shettar, though a heavyweight in politics, is noted for being a gentleman politician and easily accessible for the people. Dr Nalwad also has a 'decent' image. Both of them are from Lingayat community, though from different sub-sects.

Lingayat independent religion issue is also expected to play its own role in the elections.

The million dollar question is can Dr Nalwad, in his second attempt, break into the 24-year-old fort of Mr Shettar this time, or Mr Shettar's winning spree will continue easily this time also.

Curiosity is also there about the performance of JD(S) candidate Rajanna Koravi who is also campaigning vigorously. Meanwhile, Aam Admi Party (AAP) candidate Santosh Nargund is also holding unique campaigning.

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