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Lok Sabha Polls 2024 | Congress banks on guarantee wave, clean image of nominee to wrest ‘rice bowl’ Raichur from BJP

Known for its history of lost opportunities, Raichur - the land of rice, gold, cotton and electricity — is desperate for someone who has a vision for the region. This feeling is palpable across the region.
Last Updated : 26 April 2024, 20:30 IST
Last Updated : 26 April 2024, 20:30 IST

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“BJP should come to power in the country. But it’s okay if the party gets one seat less than its target of 400. We need a person who can represent us well and Congress has fielded a promising candidate,” S Kamal Kumar, the president of Raichur District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says is the opinion of industrialists in this city.

Raichur (ST reserve) segment will go to polls on May 7 in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections.  

Bheemesh, an electrician in Raichur, predicts a “tug of war” between incumbent BJP MP Raja Amareshwara Naik (BJP) and Congress’ G Kumar Naik, a former bureaucrat. While he supports BJP, his father appreciates Kumar Naik’s work as Raichur deputy commissioner (1999-2002).

Known for its history of lost opportunities, Raichur - the land of rice, gold, cotton and electricity — is desperate for someone who has a vision for the region. This feeling is palpable across the region.

Aspirations

“We lost IIT to Dharwad and the mega textile park to Kalaburagi. We’ll support someone who can facilitate improved quality of living in this region - from health and education to jobs,” says Basavaraj Kalasa, the convener of Raichur All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Horata Samiti, which is on an indefinite strike since 2022 demanding an AIIMS for Raichur. 

The constituency has five Assembly segments in Raichur district and three in Yadgir district. High migration, a poor literacy rate, lack of basic amenities and other factors have put these two districts among 112 aspirational districts in India.

SCs, STs and Muslims constitute over 50% of the population. However, caste and class equations play out differently in elections. “Here, politics is feudal and controlled,” says political analyst Harish Ramaswamy.

Amareshwara, the incumbent MP, is a seasoned politician. However, people struggle to recall his work. 

Lack of visibility and an inability to take party workers along also put him at a disadvantage. “B V Naik, who was denied the ticket, is more popular among the karyakartas,” says a BJP leader. “However, Amareshwara has been chosen by the high command and we’ll ensure his victory.” For now, B V Naik seems to have taken a neutral stand.    

Good start

Congress seems to be off to a good start, having already completed one round of campaigning. The party is banking on Kumar Naik’s image as a well-educated candidate familiar with the corridors of power to strike a chord with voters. 

Added to this are Congress’ guarantees - women have been told how they’ll get more financial benefits if the party comes to power at the Centre. 

Two factors seem to have led Congress to bring an ‘outsider’ into the poll fray. With no strong candidate after B V Naik joined BJP last year, there was also the need to keep party factions united.

While Kumar Naik is trying hard to familiarise himself with the electorate, Shahapur-based advocate Bhaskar Rao points out that he must depend on local Congress leaders.  

Congress won five of the eight constituencies in the last Assembly elections. “MLAs, two of whom are ministers, will strive hard to deliver in this election,” Bhaskar says. Two constituencies are with BJP while JD(S) holds Devadurga. 

After initial hesitation, the warring BJP and JD(S) have set aside their differences in Devadurga. “Workers of both parties will campaign separately, seeking votes for the NDA candidate,” Devadurga MLA Karemma G Nayak says. 

Well-laid plans 

Mohammad S, a taxi driver, says BJP can turn the election in its favour in the eleventh hour, citing the example of it winning the Raichur Assembly by a tad less than 4,000 votes.

Amaresh, a farmer in Yadgir, predicts a change soon after a national BJP leader campaigns in the constituency. “Modi’s wave is there everywhere. It may not be apparent here. But it’ll change things in favour of the BJP candidate.”

While the former bureaucrat seems to have an edge presently, the seasoned politician may prove hard to beat, with the backing of national leaders. In their contest lies the future of a region ever-waiting reforms.

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Published 26 April 2024, 20:30 IST

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