It's 'hurt' pride vs family prestige in Chittapur

It's 'hurt' pride vs family prestige in Chittapur

Priyank Kharge(Congress)

Chittapur (SC) constituency

2013 Elections

Winner: Priyank Kharge (Cong)
Runner: Valmiki Nayak (BJP)

Candidates 2018

Priyank Kharge (Cong)
Valmiki Nayak (BJP)
Devaraj V K (BSP)

Top issues

1 Illegal sand mining
2 Poor irrigation facilities
3 Drinking water woes in some areas
4 Poor condition of roads in some parts

The Chittapur (SC-reserved) constituency is drawing all the attention, in the backdrop of a challenge thrown at Minister Priyank Kharge, the sitting MLA, by Afzalpur MLA Malikayya Guttedar, who recently quit the Congress and joined the BJP.

Guttedar had openly blamed Priyank's father and veteran Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge, for him being denying ministership, despite being a six-time MLA and for getting Priyank made a minister. He had challenged Priyank on the latter's victory from the constituency.

Chittapur was made a reserved constituency after delimitation in 2008. Prior to delimitation, it was represented three times each by Vishwanath Patil Hebbal (JNP, JDS) and former minister and current Gurumatkal MLA Baburao Chinchansur (Congress). Hebbal later joined Congress.

After delimitation, Mallikarjuna Kharge shifted base to Chittapur from Gurumatkal after the latter was made a general constituency. He won Chittapur in 2008. However, after he became MP from Gulbarga, he vacated the seat. Priyank, who contested the by-election from Chittapur in 2009, was defeated by BJP’s Valmiki Nayak. The fight this time too is between Priyank and Nayak.

In the 2013 election, Priyank triumphed against Nayak and is seeking a second term.

Back then, BJP’s vote had spilt between itself and KJP (Karnataka Janata Party) head B S Yeddyurappa.

Yeddyurappa, along with his supporters, has since returned to the BJP, which is likely to benefit the party in this election.

Chittapur has a sizeable population of Kolis and Lingayats followed by SC/STs, Muslims and other backward castes, including Idigas (Guttedar’s community).

JD(S) has not fielded any candidate here, but its ally BSP has fielded Devaraj V K.

However, Devaraj is not considered a major challenger as he is not from Chittapur or even Kalaburagi and is considered an outsider. 

Priyank (who belongs to SC-Right) is banking on the development works undertaken by him. The minister even released a booklet on the Rs 2,727-crore develoment implemented by him, which includes modernisation of canals of Bennethora dam at a cost of Rs 160 crore, distribution of sprinkler sets to 6,500 farmers and irrigation to 75,000 acres of land.

However, Congress leader Vishwanath Patil Hebbal and his supporters Lingareddy Basa Reddy, Shashikanth Patil Bankur, Srinivas Hagar, Babumiyan Kalagurthi and Basavaraj Shivagola have quit the Congress and joined the BJP, miffed at Priyank’s 'style of functioning' and due to 'personal reasons'. One has to see whether they can dent the Congress’ prospects.

BJP’s Valimik Nayak (who belongs to Banjara community) dismisses the development talk as 'big bogus' and refers to the Rs 27-crore fodder scam. Nayak, who is promising all-round development, is banking on the charisma and good work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leader Yeddyurappa.

Though a former MLA, he is not seen as a major force against Priyank. But unlike last election, when votes were split between BJP and KJP, this time the party is expected to get all its share of votes.

Guttedar too is campaigning for the BJP candidate. One has to see whether his communitymen and others will toe his line.

Votes of Kolis crucial

Traditionally, SC/ST communities, OBCs and Muslims have supported Congress, while Lingayats have backed the BJP. The votes of Kolis, who also come under the backward castes, is a key factor in deciding the winning candidate.