Congress, which was the most successful party in Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha (SC reserved) constituency, is expected to face a tough fight as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has decided to field a candidate, while the BJP has fielded a strongman in the upcoming election.
The Congress-JD(S) coalition has decided to field R Dhruvanarayana, incumbent MP. The BJP has finalised the candidature of V Srinivas Prasad, five-time MP from the segment. Similarly, the BSP is likely to field a candidate.
The Congress candidates have been elected 11 times from the segment. But the BJP has developed its influence on the region over the past one decade. Prasad adds more clout for the party, say political observers.
Since 1951, the constituency has witnessed 16 Lok Sabha elections. Prasad was elected five times - four times on Congress ticket and once on Janata Dal (United) ticket. For the first time, N Rachaiah was elected on a Congress ticket in 1951, while S M Siddaiya was elected continuously for four terms on Congress ticket between 1957 and 1971. B Rachaiah was elected on a Congress ticket in 1977.
Prasad was elected consecutively for four times on a Congress ticket from 1980 to 1991. He re-elected in 1999 as a Janata Dal (United) nominee and served as Union Minister for Food and Consumer Affairs in the Atal Bihari Vajapayee Cabinet. A Siddaraju was elected twice on Janata Dal ticket in 1996 and 1999. The voters had elected JD(S) candidate M Shivanna in 2004.
Dhruvanarayan is elected twice in 2009 and 2014. He had won with a margin of 1,41,182 votes in 2014. A total of 11,33,029 were polled in the last Lok Sabha election. While Dhruvanarayana secured 5,67,782, BJP’s A R Krishna Murthy had secured 4,26,600 votes. Then, Prasad was with the Congress.
BSP also has strengthened in the segment, comprising eight Legislative Assembly segments – Hanur, Kollegal, Chamarajanagar, Gundlupet, T Narasipur, Nanjangud, HD Kote and Varuna. N Mahesh of the BSP is elected as MLA from Kollegal Assembly segment, by defeating Congress candidate A R Krishna Murthy with a margin of 19,000 votes.
BSP made attempts to bring former IAS officer K Shivaramu to contest from Chamarajanagar LS segment, but as he declined, IAS tutor Shivakumar, a party leader, is likely to be fielded.
Prasad: prominent leader
Prasad can attract Congress and JD(S) voters also as he is considered as a prominent leader of the region. Prasad’s secular credentials and experience count. Prasad has faced 13 elections in a political career of 41 years and had decided to stay away from election politics after he was defeated in Nanjangud Assembly by-polls in 2017. But, he decided to contest, owing to pressure from his supporters.
There were dramatic developments in the segment during the 2018 Assembly elections. Out of the eight Assembly segments, Congress has won only four. The BJP has won two prominent segments of the Congress – Gundlupet and Nanjangud (SC reserved). H S Mahadev Prasad of the Congress had a good hold on Gundlupet segment, but, after his demise, Congress lost hold on it. Now, BJP’s C S Niranjan Kumar represents the constituency.
According to political analysts, BSP votes will remain intact. But, the chances of Congress voters diverting towards Prasad, cannot be denied. Prasad has supporters in both JD(S) and Congress. Even though the JD(S) has extended support to the Congress candidate, it has limited base, compared to the Congress. BSP’s presence will have an adverse impact on JD(S)-Congress candidate, they said.