In Koppal, it's Congress versus BJP

In Koppal, it's Congress versus BJP

 Retaining the Koppal seat is a challenge for the BJP, while winning it is a tough task for the Congress. The JD(S) has not fielded a candidate in this most backward district

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The Congress has every reason to face the Lok Sabha polls with vigour as it has won six Assembly seats last May, leaving one each to the BJP and the JD(S). The oldest constituency, which had been a Congress forte, threw up a surprise in 2009, by electing the BJP’s Shivaramegouda. However, the BJP has chosen to field Karadi Sanganna, a known turncoat, to take on Basavaraj Itnal of the Congress. With the two prominent community candidates in the poll fray, the voters are more or less politically divided in their loyalty to the Lingayats and the Kurubas.

As its strategy to field a Lingayat worked in its favour in 2009, the BJP has fielded the man from the same caste in the Lok Sabha polls too, even though Sanganna was defeated in the 2013 Assembly election.

The parched district, with the literacy level hovering around 60 per cent, has villagers who still say they have been voting for “Indiramma” in every election.

Getting an edge

Sanganna hopes the 50,000-odd new voters in the constituency will give an edge to him as they can see the merits in Narendra Modi becoming the prime minister. He says neither Lingayats, OBCs or any other caste would block vote to his community candidate. But he is not willing to talk about how the rank and file of the BJP vanished when he hopped parties.

The JD(S) network is defunct in the constituency except in Gangavathi represented by party MLA Iqbal Ansari. He never handed over the ‘B’ form to anyone and the party chose to field none. The district JD(S) resident Khadri insists candidate was not available and hence, the party decided to support Itnal, an OBC. But the BJP sees it as a quid pro quo arrangement between Ansari and Itnal.

With the combined strength, will the Congress be able to wrest the seat from the BJP? The answer is ‘yes’, but comes with many riders. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah contested from the Koppal Assembly seat in the 1990s unsuccessfully.

‘No fear’

The youth are not swayed by Siddaramaiah’s ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme, or by his virulent attack on Modi calling him ‘Narahantaka’ (man-slaughterer). Yasin, an educated youth of Hospet, said he had visited Surat as well as Vadodara and was impressed by the development. “We, the educated Muslims, have no fear of Modi creating problems for the minorities. We are for development.”

Abbigere resident Manju said Siddaramaiah may be a good person, but he would never be a prime minister. So, he would not like to waste his vote this time.

Modi may enjoy adulation but the Congress is patronised by its traditional voters belonging to SC/STs, OBCs and minorities.

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