Caste adds heft to Sriramulu’s bout against CM in Badami

Caste adds heft to Sriramulu’s bout against CM in Badami

The high-voltage electoral battle in the keenly watched Badami constituency in Bagalkot district is getting interesting by the day.

The two mega contestants in this power play — Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and dominant Valmiki leader B Sriramulu — have caught the attention of the electorate across Karnataka.

The constituency is being dubbed by the opposition as Congress candidate Siddaramaiah’s safety net.

The chief minister, after much dilly-dallying, decided to contest from here on a second seat after having filed his nominations from his home turf of Chamundeshwari in Mysuru district.

Siddaramaiah’s supporters, too, were keen that he contested from a seat in North Karnataka to boost the prospects of the Congress in the region. But the net may not be as safe as the Congress believes. BJP’s Sriramulu has a lot of factors working in his favour here.

For starters, a prime opponent in the constituency, Mahantesh Mahamadapura, who lost to sitting MLA B B Chimmanakatti in the 2013 polls has joined the BJP and is actively supporting Sriramulu. 

Further, there is anti-incumbency sentiment against Chimmanakatti who has represented the Badami segment five times in the Assembly. 

The constituency, despite being home to many places of world heritage and historical interest that attract thousands every year, like the Badami Caves and Pattadakal, is in utter neglect.

All said and done, it is the caste factor that will play a major role in the fight for the Badami seat.

Sriramulu commands immense sway over the Valmiki (ST) community whose population (38,000) is less than that of Kurubas, the community to which Siddaramaiah belongs (50,000).

While the people of Badami have elected Chimmanakatti five times, they have also voted twice for S K Pattanashetti, who hails from the Panchamashali Lingayat community.

This is where JD(S) candidate Hanumanth Mavinamarad, also a Panchamashali Lingayat, who has been relentlessly campaigning much ahead of the polls comes into play.

Having won the goodwill of the people, it remains to be seen how he cuts into the vote-base of the two national parties.

The run-up to the polls witnessed Valmiki leader Satish Jarkiholi of the Congress urging members of the community to vote for Siddaramaiah this elections. He is said to have got a resounding ‘no’ in response. Meanwhile, both Siddaramaiah and Sriramulu have promised to change the face of Badami if elected.