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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Kharge determined to reclaim lost citadel as Jadhav rides on Modi wave

Kharge’s emotional appeal to voters, last week, “at least attend his funeral if they thought he worked for them” can generate sympathy for Congress in Gulbarga, believe party workers.
Last Updated : 03 May 2024, 23:11 IST
Last Updated : 03 May 2024, 23:11 IST

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It won’t be a cakewalk for AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge this time in the Lok Sabha elections to wrest his home turf after his maiden defeat in the previous election from Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency.

His son-in-law Radhakrishna Doddamani, who wants to carry forward the legacy of the Congress veteran by entering into the poll fray, has to withstand the Modi wave. 

Doddamani was the main strategist for Kharge, who worked behind the scene for consecutive victories from the Gurmitkal assembly segment and for two parliamentary polls. Kharge won eight straight elections from 1972 to 2004 from here. 

“Mallikarjun Kharge has sympathy wave for losing the previous Lok Sabha election despite undertaking development work as MP and minister. But, it would have been a one-sided affair if he himself had contested from Gulbarga again instead of fielding his son-in-law. Now, there will be a close fight between the national parties,” said Shivashankar Jambagi, the retired gram panchayat secretary of Sharan Sirasagi village in Kalaburagi taluk.

Kharge’s emotional appeal to voters, last week, “at least attend his funeral if they thought he worked for them” can generate sympathy for Congress in Gulbarga, believe party workers. 

Mallikarjun Patil, a farmer from Malkhed, and his associates credit Central University of Karnataka, GIMS and ESIC hospitals, construction of bridges-cum-barrage and several other projects to Kharge. “Congress candidate Radhakrishna Doddamani and BJP candidate Dr Umesh Jadhav are irrelevant in the election. We will support Congress considering the stature of Kharge,” they said.

Now, the homecoming of former ministers Malikayya Guttedar, Baburao Chinchansur and Dr A B Malakreddy has added more strength to the party. Also, ministers Priyank Kharge and Sharan Prakash Patil have been camping in the constituency and overseeing campaigning for the last few weeks.

Guarantee schemes

The guarantee schemes launched by the state government have improved the prospect of the Congress in parliamentary elections. “We did not get drought compensation for loss of tur, cotton and sugarcane crops. But Gruha Laxmi, Shakti schemes, Gruha Jyoti and Anna Bhagya have kept us afloat,” said Vittal Karagond, from Ankalaga village in Jewargi taluk.

The Congress is high on confidence as six assembly seats in Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency are being represented by the party, while BJP and JD(S) have one seat each. 

Anti-incumbency

MP Dr Umesh Jadhav is trying to defy anti-incumbency by riding on the Modi wave. People say he failed to bring major projects and thus could not curb migration. People also complain that he was inaccessible as an MP.

However, Jadhav is confident of winning a second term. The rigorous campaign by Central leaders including PM and BJP national president J P Nadda has come as a morale booster for the saffron brigade. In fact, the Prime Minister started his Karnataka leg poll campaign from Kalaburagi.

Nitin Guttedar bolsters BJP

Nitin Guttedar joining the BJP fold has strengthened the party in the district.

“Most of the development works of Mallikarjun Kharge are confined only to Kalaburagi city. Nitin Guttedar will quickly respond to our problems including drinking water scarcity. He is also easily accessible to the people,” said hair saloon owner Shivanand Hadapad of Gabbur village in Afzalpur taluk.

“I always support Congress in the assembly elections as our village is the native of former CM late N Dharam Singh. But I vote for BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls as Modi is a strong leader and has launched many pro-poor programmes,” said 65-year-old farmer Devanna Manga from Nelogi village in Jewargi taluk.

Congress has won 16 elections, BJP two and Janata Dal one from the constituency. Now, the BJP’s prospect hinges on how the candidate will douse the public anger over unfulfilled demands of a separate railway division and a mega textile park.

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Published 03 May 2024, 23:11 IST

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