'Ageless' Shamanur vs 'now-or-never' BJP nominee here

'Ageless' Shamanur vs 'now-or-never' BJP nominee here

Shamanur Shivashankarappa

Davangere South
2013 elections
Winner-Shamanur Shivashankarappa (Congress)
Runner-up Karekatte Syed Saifulla (JD-S)

Poll issues
Undeveloped slums
Narrow roads, lack of UGD facility

Davangere: It's ageless spirit versus a candidate banking on sympathy factor in Davangere South.

Though Congress candidates Shamanur Shivashankarappa is in his late 80s, his political spirit has not weakened even a bit. The three-time legislator, regarded as the patron of Davangere, is campaigning zealously, enduring age-related discomforts. So much so, he says it is not his last election.

But Yashavantha Rao Jadhav of the BJP is trying to convince voters that time has come to send the veteran leaderhome. Jadhav is appealing to the voters to back him, so that he registers his maiden electoral battle as he lost the polls thrice, which he thinks may create sympathy for him.

Shamanur sits on a chair placed in an open jeep and waves to voters during his roadshow. A doctor follows him in a car to help out, in case of an emergency.

The constituency has 2,01,184 voters. Of them, 1,01,594 are male, 99,556 female and 34 third gender. Muslims form a major chunk of voters followed by SC/STs, Lingayats and Maratha Kshatriyas.

Seven candidates from the Muslim community, including J Amanulla Khan of the JD(S), are in the fray. When asked whether this would mar Congress' prospects, Shamanur said, “they are all common customers. We know how to deal with them.” BJP is hoping that the division of Muslim votes would prove handy.

Jadhav, a former chairman of the Davangere Urban Development Authority, said Muslims were aware of the injustice meted out to them by the Shamanur family in 2008. Shamanur and his son S S Mallikarjun (Congress nominee from Davangere North) did everything to ensure that Syed Saifullah, official of nominee of the party, would not contest the polls.

Saifullah was forced to scratch out his name from the B-form and write Mallikarjun’s name instead. However, the Election Commission rejected the form. So, there was no candidate of the Congress then in Davangere North.

Even Lingayats know about the double standards of Shamanur over minority status. Voters are keen to end the family politics as Davangere North and South constituencies are represented by the father-son duo, the BJP nominee says. He hopes the triple talaq issue will work in BJP's favour.

Unlike Davangere North, this constituency has less number of voters belonging to Lingayat community. Shamanur feels the minority tag issue will have no impact on the election. He wants to implement 24x7 drinking water supply scheme and several projects under Smart City project.

Voters of the constituency are of the view that the dominance of the Shamanur family in various sectors, including education and health, may be beneficial for the Congress nominee.

Ramesh, who runs a hotel in Davangere, said BJP nominee Jadhav is not an unfamiliar face in the constituency. But he lacks a strong connect with people of the region, which Shamanur has. He had put up a good fight against Shamanur in the 2008 elections. BJP is projecting the electoral battle as common man’s challenge to money and political power. Victory is inevitable for Jadhav to keep his political career afloat, he added.