It is JD(S) vs Raitha Sangha in Melukote

Darshan Puttannaiah conducting road show in Mudguru village in Melukote constituency in Mandya district on Tuesday. DH photo.

With the JD(S) which claims to be a champion of farmers’ cause on the one hand and Raitha Sangha-backed Swaraj India party on the other, the Melukote electorate has a difficult choice to make this election.

Swaraj India’s Darshan Puttannaiah, son of farmer leader and sitting MLA the late K S Puttannaiah, faces a tough fight against sitting JD(S) MP C S Puttaraju in what appears to be a straight contest in the constituency which is predominantly agrarian.

The BJP has fielded S Somashekar, who is seen as an outsider as he does not belong to the constituency.

High-pitch campaign

Melukote is witnessing a high-pitch campaign with Darshan and Puttaraju making desperate attempts to woo farmers.

While Darshan, who was running a software firm in the US till recently, returned to continue his father’s legacy, Puttaraju, who represented Melukote as MLA in 2008, is desperate to come back to the state politics by winning the seat.

Both belong to the dominant Vokkaliga community.

A political greenhorn Darshan has got the support of the Congress, Dalit Sangarsha Samithi, various farmers’ organisations and local Lingayat/Veerashaiva communities. Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India has been campaigning extensively in the constituency.

Interestingly, Darshan has, for the first time, brought various factions of Raitha Sangha together. Pacche Nanjundaswamy and Chukki Nanjundaswamy, children of farmer leader the late Prof M D Nanjundaswamy, are actively involved in the door-to-door campaigns in favour of Darshan.

Puttannaiah and Nanjundaswamy were at loggerheads and headed two different factions of the Raitha Sangha.

The JD(S), on its part, is leaving no stone unturned in garnering support.

The party recently held ‘Raitha Chitanya Yatra’ in the constituency in order to reach out to farmers.

Almost all members of H D Deve Gowda’s family — H D Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha, his son Nikhil, H D Revanna’s wife Bhavani — are drumming up support for Puttaraju.

Farmers’ suicides

The JD(S) has been raking up the issue of farmers’ suicides during the campaign, while blaming the Congress in this regard. Mandya district witnessed a large number of farmers’ suicides, especially that of sugarcane growers, in the past few years.

Besides projecting the pro-farmer works of Puttannaiah, the Swaraj India party is trying to highlight the reported involvement of Puttaraju in illegal stone quarrying and crushing in Mandya. The JD(S) candidate is also facing a CID probe in this connection.

Sympathy factor

Above all, the electorate in Mandya is driven by emotions and so is the reason the sympathy factor has never failed to work in the district.

The wives of sitting MLAs, who died during their tenure, have won all bypolls held since 1983 — Jayavani M Manchegowda (1983), Vijayalakshmi Bandisidde Gowda (1985), Prabhavathi Jayaram (1997), and Kalpana Siddaraju (2008) — hands down. It is interesting to see if the trend continues in Melukote in the upcoming elections.

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It is JD(S) vs Raitha Sangha in Melukote

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