Lok Sabha Election 2024: Sudhakar sweats it out against political greenhorn Raksha Ramaiah in Chikballapur

Members of the Balija community, to which Raksha belongs, are considered to be staunch supporters of the BJP. But this time, they are likely to throw their weight behind Raksha.
Last Updated : 21 April 2024, 23:57 IST
Last Updated : 21 April 2024, 23:57 IST

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Riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wave in 2019 and Vokkaliga consolidation, the BJP had succeeded in wresting the Chikballapur Lok Sabha seat from Congress for the first time. 

Now, it is fighting a tough battle to retain the constituency as Congress candidate Raksha Ramaiah is giving a tough competition to BJP’s Dr K Sudhakar.

Raksha, though a new entrant to electoral politics, comes from the wealthy and influential political family, the M S Ramaiah clan.

It wields considerable influence in Chikkaballapur, Devanahalli and Bagepalli Assembly segments coming under the Lok Sabha constituency. Overall, it has earned the goodwill of people.

After his defeat at the hands of Congress’ Pradeep Eshwar in last year’s Assembly elections, Sudhakar, a Vokkaliga, has largely succeeded in consolidating his community behind him.

JD(S) support

The former medical education minister hopes that the transfer of votes from JD(S) to him will also ensure his victory. 

Members of the Balija community, to which Raksha belongs, are considered to be staunch supporters of the BJP. But this time, they are likely to throw their weight behind Raksha.

The constituency also has a sizeable population of Muslims, SC/STs and other microscopic communities. 

Rural voters seem to be tilting towards the Congress, while in urban Assembly segments like Yelahanka and Doddaballapur, Modi is the key vote-catcher for the BJP.

Several voters that DH spoke to did not even take the name of Sudhakar and said they would vote for Modi.    

Last week, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah held a series of roadshows in Chikkaballapur, where he made allegations of corruption against Sudhakar.

Past laurels

Sidde Gowda, 28, a trader at the Chikkaballapur flower market, said Sudhakar’s victory was much needed for overall development of Chikkaballapur as under him as district minister, lot of development works were undertaken here. Others can’t match him, Gowda said. 

“How can Siddaramaiah make such allegations against Sudhakar? Will he say the same about corrupt leaders like deputy chief minister D K Shivakumar in his party? We need a strong Vokkaliga leader like Sudhakar here,” he said.

Siddu factor

Sunil Kumar, another trader who is a Kuruba by caste, told DH, “But for the Siddaramaiah factor, I too would have voted for Sudhakar.”

This election is all about Siddaramaiah’s continuation as CM. So, his community (the Kurubas), had decided to support Raksha, Kumar said.  

The constituency has been a stronghold of the Congress since 1962, as it lost only twice in 1996 to Janata Dal and in 2019 to BJP.

Past elections

Of the 13 elections, OBC candidates have won six elections in a row since 1996. Despite Vokkaligas dominating the Lok Sabha seat in terms of numbers, it has elected Brahmin candidates twice and an Arya Vaishya nominee once.

Vokkaligas may be consolidating in Sudhakar’s favour. But Yelahanka BJP MLA S R Vishwanath’s ‘disgruntlement’ over missing out on the party ticket for his son may dent Sudhakar’s votes. 

As if to blunt the effect, the BJP had organised a rally addressed by Modi and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda recently. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is addressing a rally here on April 24.  

Lingayat votes 

A senior BJP functionary told DH that Lingayats are also in big numbers in the Chikballapur Lok Sabha segment. 

Sudhakar is wooing the community big time with the help of former Bengaluru police commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirjee and former Tumakuru deputy commissioner Dr Somashekhar, both Lingayats.

The BJP hopes to offset any damage caused by Vishwanath or by the consolidation of Balija voters in favour of Raksha through the Lingayat votes.  

Ramaiah family’s clout

The challenges for the Congress are big, but the association of the Ramaiah family with the politics of the district for more than four decades may help it surmount them.

“All these years, our community people used to go to Ramaiah’s house seeking help. This is the first time they have come to our houses seeking votes. How can we send them empty-handed? This is what our community people are saying to us. So, we are not able to consolidate Balija votes in BJP’s favour,” a senior BJP leader from the Balija community told DH.  

Published 21 April 2024, 23:57 IST

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