A drought of political will in parched Kundgol

Kundgol By-poll

S I Chikkangoudar

The by-election to Kundgol Assembly constituency was necessitated due to the death of sitting MLA and minister C S Shivalli of Congress. Scheduled to be held on May 19, the bypoll has become a prestige issue for both the Congress and BJP.

Following threat by disgruntled MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi of Gokak that he would engineer the fall of the coalition government after the results of the byelections and general elections are out, the Congress is leaving no stone unturned to retain the seat.

The BJP which is keen to increase its numerical strength in the Assembly in order to topple the coalition government is also hell bent on winning the seat.

Hoping to ride the sympathy wave, the Congress has fielded Kusumavati, widow of Shivalli. The BJP has fielded former MLA S I Chikkanagoudar, who had lost the previous election in 2018 by a narrow margin of 634 votes. Kusumavati belongs to Kuruba community while Chikkanagoudar is a Panchamasali Lingayat.

The Congress has sent a battery of ministers to camp in the constituency and manage the campaign. Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar has been entrusted with the task of getting the Congress candidate elected and he is using all resources at his disposal to get support for Kusumavati.

JD(S) leaders are also campaigning here. BJP state chief B S Yeddyurappa is camping in the constituency to ensure that Chikkanagoudar, his relative. Party leaders Jagadish Shettar, B Sriramulu and Pralhad Joshi are also canvassing.

Kusumavati is a political novice and had remained indoors when her husband fought elections. Shivalli had contested six elections, of which he had won three. There was stiff opposition to field Kusumavati from other ticket aspirants and their contention was that they had better contact with the electorate.

However, chairman of the coalition coordination committee Siddaramaiah, who was the mentor of Shivalli, ensured that Kusumavati got the ticket. Chikkanagoudar’s selection was also not without opposition. M R Patil, who had lost once, was a strong contender and there was pressure on the BJP to field him.

Siddaramaiah is eyeing the support from Kurubas and other backward communities and Deputy CM G Parameshwar has been busy gathering support from dalit voters.

Deploying Shivakumar to manage the election had evoked resistance from Minister Satish Jarkiholi and he had pointed out that the local leaders were capable of managing things. Moreover, there are no Vokkaliga voters in the constituency, the community to which Shivakumar belongs.

BJP is relying heavily on Lingayat votes, a major chunk of the electorate. In addition, it is being widely publicised that electing a BJP candidate will help make Yeddyurappa chief minister again.

A visit to rural parts of the constituency shows that the BJP has an edge over the Congress. “Kusumavati is a political novice and if elected, Shivalli’s aides will run the show. Like it happened in Kalghatagi, people elected Santosh Lad twice, but he was never available to the people. His personal assistants ran the show,” said Hanumanthappa of Gudageri.

“Chikkanagoudar lost by a slender margin last time and he deserves to be supported. If Chikkanagoudar is elected, Yeddyurappa will become CM” he said.

With both the parties trying every means to lure the voters, it is to be seen whether the sympathy factor comes to the aid of Kusumavati or the people (who are made to believe that this will be the last election for Chikkanagoudar) will elect him.

 

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