Cong feud, ‘Modi again’ keep BJP in good stead

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Suresh Angadi is facing an uphill task to retain the Belgaum parliamentary constituency. The three-time MP will take on Congress’ Virupakshi Sadhunavar, a political greenhorn, in what is seen as a straight fight between the two national parties.

Though Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti has fielded over 40 candidates as independents, the combined votes polled by them may not have bearing on the results as the pro-Maharashtra outfit does not enjoy much support from the Marathi-speaking people when it comes of parliamentary elections.

The MES had used similar ploy in the 2018 Assembly elections. But the Samiti-backed candidates had suffered setbacks then.

The Congress held sway over Belgaum constituency from 1957 to 1991. Shivanand Koujalgi of Janata Dal breached the Congress fort in 1996 elections. The BJP, which had made considerable gains in 1991 and 1996 elections, clinched the seat in 1998 elections with Babagouda Patil recording a facile victory. The Congress wrested the seat from the BJP in 1999, when Amarsinh Patil defeated Babagouda. 

Since 2004, it was the BJP show with Suresh Angadi recording a hat-trick of wins. Angadi faced a stiff fight from Lakshmi Hebbalkar of Congress in the 2014 elections. BJP nominee had polled 5,54,417 votes while Hebbalkar managed to garner 4,78,557 votes.   In the 2018 assembly elections, the saffron party consolidated its base winning five of eight segments. The ‘Modi again’ factor and the infighting and factionalism in Belagavi Congress are keeping the BJP candidate in good stead despite his poor report card as MP, this time. 

Dr Sadhunavar’s name cropped up during the run up to elections. Not many leaders know him as the doctor-educationist is confined to his hometown Bailhongal. 

Both Angadi and Dr Sadhunavar belong to the dominant Lingayat community. They look to pocket a major chunk of votes of Kuruba, Maratha, STs and other backward classes.

Angadi told DH, “Congress is a non-entity in the constituency. Based on the good governance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his works, people will re-elect me.”

His rival Dr Sadhunavar says, “People want change and my prospects are bright as the party is regaining the foothold in the constituency.

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