Infighting in Cong, Modi factor give BJP the edge

Infighting in Cong, Modi factor give BJP the edge

Hitnal eyes 'traditional votes' to wrest Koppal fort from Karadi

Karadi Sanganna

Koppal Lok Sabha Constituency, comprising 8 Assembly segments across Koppal, Raichur and Ballari districts, has been a Congress and Lingayat bastion, where the Congress nominees have won 10 times and Lingayat candidates 11 times since 1951.

Scheduled Tribes and Muslim voters are also sizable in number.

The BJP breached the Congress fort in 2009 when Shivaramgouda defeated K Virupakshappa.

In the last two decades, politics in the district has been revolving around Karadi Sanganna and K Basavaraj Hitnal.

Karadi, a Lingayat, had defeated Basavaraj Hitnal twice in Assembly elections and staved off the Kuruba community leader in keenly contested parliamentary elections in 2014.

Basavaraj's son Raghavendra, however, made sure Congress hold Koppal Assembly seat in last two terms. He defeated Sanganna Karadi in 2013 Assembly election and saw off Amaresh, Sanganna's son, in 2018 polls. 

Raghavendra’s younger brother Rajashekhar, a ZP member from Ginigera constituency, is taking on Karadi for the Parliament.

Like a traveller on the rugged rocky terrain passes of the district, Karadi is in for a rough ride. The incumbent is surely on the slippery wicket.

“This time, Sanganna is on a sticky wicket due to anti-incumbency,” admits a BJP functionary.

The leadership too isn’t that happy with Karadi as he embarrassed the party in the 2018 Assembly elections. Despite the party announcing C V Chandrashekhar from Koppal, Karadi managed to field his son.

According to sources, Karadi was fielded for Lok Sabha only after he apologised and promised to abide by the party’s decision in future.

The pitch isn’t easy for Rajashekhar either. Hitnals have strained relationships with seniors in the district Congress- Basavaraj Rayareddy, Amaregouda Bayyapur, K Virupakshappa and Hampanagouda Badarli.

“Rayareddy and Badarli believe that Hitnals played a role in their defeats in the 2018 Assembly polls. Bayyapur has his own reasons to be upset with Hitnals, while Virupakshappa is hurt as he was denied the ticket,” reveals a Congress functionary.

Modi wave has sidelined these factors. The party feels that about 4% increase of votes for the BJP after Modi’s rally at Gangavathi has given Karadi an edge over Rajashekhar.

There are reasons to buy the theory. “For us Modi is important,” Sindhanur resident Ashok Attad’s words mirror the situation.

“I drove a few groups of youths to Goa thrice only to have Modi tattoo on their bodies,” Shivakumar, a cab driver from Koppal, says.

“Women, labourers and farmers say that they just see only Modi nothing else,” Gururaj, a pan shop owner at Kushtagi claims.

Prof Ashok Ojanahalli of SG College, Koppal, believes that about 95% of the millennials chanting Modi mantra may change the game in Karadi’s favour.

Hitnals have a strong network at the grassroots. The Kuruba community has always stood by Hitnals.

Rajashekhar is confident of drawing votes of Muslims, Dalits and other backward classes. He believes that Siddaramaiah’s influence on voters will sail him through.