Will NR seat see a break from hereditary politics?

This election in the Narasimharaja Assembly constituency will create history. Either Education Minister Tanveer Sait will record his fifth victory in a row and add five more years to the 41-year-old hold over the segment by the father-son duo since 1967, or there will be a break in hereditary politics.

It is a four-cornered fight between sitting MLA Sait, his nearest rival in the 2013 polls Abdul Majeed of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and Sandesh Swamy (Sathish) of the BJP and Abdul Azeez (Abdullah) of the JD(S). In the last election, Swamy was a JD(S) nominee. Azeez had contested against then minister Azeez Sait in the 1994 polls on a Karnataka Congress Party ticket.

Among 2,62,300 voters in the constituency 1,29,895 are men, 1,32,365 women and 40 others. Out of 65 wards of the Mysuru City Corporation, 19 come under the constituency, where the Congress and JD(S) have six corporators each, followed by three BJP corporators, two SDPI corporators and as many Independents.

The Narasimharaja constituency, earlier known as Mysore North, is deemed to be an undeclared Muslim constituency as leaders from the community have represented it for 12 terms, including a by-election. The other community MLAs were T Mariappa of the Congress, who won the first election in 1952, B K Puttaiah of Praja Socialist Party in 1962 and E Maruthi Rao Pawar of the BJP in 1994. Thus, Muslim leaders have represented the constituency for a total of 51 years in its history of 66 years.

It has to be noted that the father-son duo — the Azeez Sait and Tanveer Sait — have held the constituency, for 41 years, since 1967, with just two breaks. The breaks being in 1984, when Azeez Sait was elected to the Lok Sabha from Dharwad South, and in 1994, when E Maruti Rao Pawar of the BJP won. As the senior Sait became MP, the late Muktharunisa Begum was elected in the 1985 Assembly election.

The 2013 Assembly election was not a cake-walk for Tanveer Sait. Since the 2002 by-election, which was facilitated by the death of the senior Sait, Tanveer Sait has been continuously representing the constituency. But, the last victory was with a thin margin of 8,370 votes in a constituency with 2.11 lakh voters, which recorded a polling of 54.7% and a total of 1,15,764 valid votes. SDPI candidate Abdul Majeed sprung a surprise by polling 29,667 votes, followed by Sandesh Swamy of the JD(S) with 29,180 votes and B P Manjunath of the BJP, who managed to get 12,443 votes.

Now, Tanveer Sait is fearing a severe anti-incumbency wave. He is not in the good books of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and other Congress leaders. There were also rumours of him joining the JD(S). Even though it was certain that the Congress would field Sait. He is banking on his inheritance of the political legacy and its continuation over the decades.

Of late, SDPI is becoming popular among Muslims. SDPI, which is supporting the Congress in other constituencies, is eyeing Narasimharaja for itself, claiming it to be a winnable seat. Abdul Majeed’s candidature was announced in June itself and he had completed one round of campaigning by the time the candidates of other parties were announced.

According to an estimate, around 95,000 of the voters in the constituency are Muslims, 45,000 Dalits, 20,000 STs, 15,000 Christians, 14,000 Kurubas, 14,000 Vokkaligas, 11,000 Lingayats, 8,000 Marathas and others. Among Muslims, women may swing towards the BJP at a time when Muslim youth are swayed by fundamentalist ideologies. The opposition of the BJP to triple talaq would also act in the party’s favour. Swamy of the BJP is a four-time corporator and was also the mayor. He had contested on JD(S) ticket twice earlier. His elder brother, MLC Sandesh Nagaraj, had also contested from the constituency twice earlier. Abdul Azeez of the JD(S) is banking on the alliance with the BSP.

The MLAs elected from the constituency so far are: T Mariappa (1952, Cong), Mohammad Sait (1957, Independent), B K Puttaswamy (1962, PSP), Azeez Sait (1967, SSP, 1972, 1978, 1989, 1999, Congress and 1983, Janata Party), Muktharaunnisa Begum (1985, Cong), E Maruti Rao Pawar (1994, BJP) and Tanveer Sait (2002 by-election, 2004, 2008 and 2013, Cong).

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Will NR seat see a break from hereditary politics?

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