A region where industry's yet to log in full-time

A region where industry's yet to log in full-time

Chamarajanagar (SC reserved) Lok Sabha constituency, comprising four Assembly constituencies of Chamarajanagar district and four constituencies of Mysuru district, will witness the clash between veteran V Srinivas Prasad, a BJP candidate, and his protege R Dhruvanarayan of the Congress. Even though BSP also has a strong presence in the constituency, with one MLA in former minister N Mahesh, it is deemed to be a direct fight.

While Prasad, a former union and former state minister, is contesting his eighth Lok Sabha poll, seeking sixth entry to the Parliament from the same constituency, Dhruvanarayan is trying to score a hat-trick. Prasad, a native of Mysuru city, was ‘imposed’ on Chamarajanagar by then Janata Party leaders Ramakrishna Hegde and Veerendra Patil in 1977. However, Dhrvanarayan a native of the constituency, Heggavadi in Gundlupet taluk, was promoted as MLA candidate by Prasad himself in Santhemaralli and later in Kollegal. Again, Dhruvanarayan was handpicked by Prasad as MP candidate in 2009. Since then he is MP, for two consecutive terms.

Counted among the backward districts, bifurcated in 1998, Chamarajanagar shares borders with Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Despite its strategic location, the district has not developed on expected lines.

Even though the district has a huge potential for tourism and trade, the vast presence of forests and proximity to Mysuru are deemed to be deterrents. Eco-tourism and hospitality are providing jobs, but the sector is largely unregulated. Industries in the taluks of Chamarajanagar are a rarity. But, industries in Nanjangud Assembly segment are thriving.

Prasad himself had represented the constituency from Janata Party once and from JD(U) once, but it is considered as a stronghold of Congress. There are 10 candidates, including four Independents, in the fray. M Shivakumar, a trainer for aspirants of competitive exams, is BSP candidate.

Dhruvanarayan is popular among the people and also in political circles as a good person, a good MP and also a strategist. His management of the 2017 Nanjangud bypoll, when his cousin Kalale Keshavamurthy, an import to the Congress from JD(S), won over Prasad of the BJP, was commended. The bypoll was facilitated with the resignation of Prasad, after he was dropped from the Siddaramaiah Cabinet in 2016.

Despite a strong Modi wave in 2014, Dhrvanarayan was re-elected with a margin of 1.41 lakh votes. Then, there was Congress government in the state and seven out of eight MLAs were from Congress. The remaining one was of the JD(S). Dhrvanarayan is credited with the upgradation of the National Highway, establishment of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Ekalavya School, etc. He is banking on his achievements and support of five MLAs of the JD(S)-Congress coalition. There is no rift in the coalition like in Mysuru, Mandya or Hassan constituencies.

Prasad has good reputation. But, he was a reluctant candidate of the BJP. In 2013, when he was elected as Nanjangud MLA, he had announced that he would retire from electoral politics in a dignified way. When he was dropped from Siddaramaiah Cabinet, he was forced to contest the bypoll. In the 2018 Assembly poll, his son-in-law B Harshavardhan was elected from Nanjangud.

Prasad, who is contesting the LS polls, after a gap of 20 years, is now 70 years old and has health issues. He is banking on the Modi wave and the charisma of state BJP president, former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, among a section of the electorate.

The BSP may improve its vote share and is expected to dent both JD(S)-Congress and BJP prospects. In the 2014 polls, Shivamallu of the BSP had polled 34,846 votes.