Jigajinagi faces divided BJP, united coalition

Last Updated 22 April 2019, 06:08 IST

A fairly good performance by the Janata Dal (Secular) in the 2018 Assembly elections emboldened the party leadership to demand and get Bijapur (SC) in the Lok Sabha seat sharing arrangement with the Congress.

Of the eight Assembly seats in this backward north Karnataka constituency, JD(S) won two and came second in three. It lost two seats by a margin of less than 4,000.

Incidentally, Bijapur is the only LS seat that JD(S) is contesting in north Karnataka (if you leave out the part-coastal Uttara Kannada). Interestingly, if the votes polled for Congress and JD(S) in all the Assembly segments are clubbed, the combine is way ahead at around 7.25 lakh votes as against around 4.33 lakh of BJP.

But then, Lok Sabha elections are a completely different ball game compared to the Assembly polls. Ramesh Jigajinagi, BJP candidate and five-time MP, knows this well – he is seeking vote in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This is perhaps his way of diverting the Opposition charge that he has done precious little for the constituency despite his long stint in Lok Sabha. In almost every public meeting, the Opposition is lashing out at Jigajinagi for not looking into the drinking water problem in this drought-prone area despite being Union minister in charge of drinking water. In the 2018 Assembly polls, the BJP came third in Jigajinagi’s native Indi seat.

Sunita Chavan, wife of Devanand Chavan, JD(S) MLA of Nagathan, is opposing Jigajigani. A doctorate holder whose family runs scores of educational institutions in the district, Sunita, a Banjara, says it is time the electorate voted out her BJP opponent who has forgotten what development is.

There was not much of electioneering in the constituency in the past few weeks but it picked up later.

Initially, the Congress leaders were upset that the party lost out to JD(S) in candidate selection but leaders came together and actively worked for Sunita. Leaders of both parties, including JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda and Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy along with senior Congress leaders addressed several public meetings in the last 2-3 days.

The BJP is a divided house here with Bijapur City MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal publicly hitting out at Jigajinagi. He has avoided campaigning for his party MP. However, Jigajinagi, seeking his sixth win, after a hat-trick in Chikkodi and winning twice in Bijapur (which was declared reserved after delimitation), says the party is united.

Although this is a reserved seat, the numerically strong Lingayat community, about six lakh, holds the key. Its sub-sect Panchamsalis, who number some 2.50 lakh are said to be against Jigajinagi while the other sect, Ganigas are reported to be in his favour. While the 2.50 lakh Muslims will strongly back Sunita, those of the four-lakh Dalits, one lakh each of Backward Class Kabbaligas are likely to be divided.

Overall, Bijapur presents an interesting battle thanks to a close contest.

(Published 21 April 2019, 16:57 IST)

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