Vijayanagar’s ‘hat-trick hero’ Anand Singh, trying his luck for the fourth time, is taking on 12 other candidates.
Like Singh, Vijayanagar voters witness fourth election in less than two years-two Lok Sabha and as many Assembly elections, a factor that voters consider seriously.
Since the inception of Vijayanagar assembly segment in 2008, Singh has been cornered like never before. He is the common target for his rivals inside and outside the BJP.
The following words of Nagenahalli voter Kanakappa Shyanyal carry hidden meaning: “We always hear or see some news about our saheb (Singh) though we haven’t seen him in the last one-and-a-half years. It’s ages since we heard about Venkatrao Y Ghorpade and N M Nabi.” Nagenahalli is about five kilometres away from Singh’s palatial bungalow.
The constituency has about 55,000 Muslim voters, 45,000 Scheduled Castes, 38,000 Scheduled Tribes, 25,000 Kurubas and 35,000 Lingayat voters. Caste has never been a factor here as Singh, a Rajput, has comfortably won thrice.
Singh is king in Hosapete CMC and Kamalapur town panchayat. A large number of gram panchayat members in over 32 villages are his followers.
“Singh is resourceful. Voters remember this and philanthropic works than his involvement in illegal export of iron ore and imprisonment. They will be happy if Singh fulfils their demands, if not those of their areas,” Honnappa Koppal, a farmer, says.
He adds,”We haven’t seen him in the constituency since May 2018. We’ve seen on television how he thronged resorts. Voters will remember this while pressing the EVM button.”
Koppal’s observation indicates a road ridden with humps and potholes for Singh.
BJP ticket aspirants - Gaviyappa, Rani Samyuktha, Kishore Pattikonda and RSS workers are away from Singh. BJP rebel candidate Kaviraj Urs has vowed to defeat Singh.
Singh is exploiting situations to fill this void. He is asking voters should they need outsiders like Ghorpade and Nabi. While the Congress is hit by factionalism, JD(S) workers are not seen in large number with Nabi. The duo lack a strong local network.
Singh’s supporters believe that Nabi will eat into Congress vote bank that helps their leader.
“Singh has forgotten his two demands-formation of Vijayanagar district and cancellation of 3,667 acres land to the JSW Steel, Ballari. None is asking why Singh has imposed the bypoll. Focus is on his house-warming ceremony and his son’s wedding. These events may be strategically scheduled for agenda,” doubts a lecturer of Vijayanagar college.
Ghorpade, who served as Ballari ZP president, unsuccessfully contested to the Assembly twice and to the Council once. Ghorpade, a doctoral degree holder, is a man of clean image and soft spoken nature. People still remember his philanthropic initiatives. Singh will no more be king if voters consider Ghorpade’s this aspect.
Nabi, a former legislator from Kudligi and minister in 1994, struggles to project himself not as an outsider.