Can Sharath Bachegowda do a Sumalatha in Hoskote?

Independent candidate Sharath Bachegowda (with folded hands) campaigns at Doddahullur village of Hoskote taluk in Bengaluru Rural district on Friday. DH photo/S K Dinesh

While the Hoskote bypoll is billed as a hot “triangular fight”, the case of Independent candidate Sharath Bachegowda, 37, is reminiscent of Mandya MP Sumalatha Ambareesh’s campaign during the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year.

In many parts of Hoskote on Friday, youth sported t-shirts that read, “Swabhimani” (one with self-esteem). Sharath says he is fighting the bypoll with “Swabhimaana” (self-esteem) as his pitch, similar to Sumalatha’s campaign that proved to be a success for her.

While these bypolls were necessitated because Congress and JD(S) legislators defected, Sharath stood his ground saying he would not make way for a rebel in Hoskote. The result: Sharath was expelled by the BJP for his mutiny. He is up against disqualified legislator M T B Nagaraj — whom the BJP has fielded — and Congress’ Padmavathi Suresh. 

The need for preservation of the self-esteem of people here is what prompted him to contest elections, Sharath told DH. “There is a feeling that the BJP has cheated people by not giving an opportunity to the local candidate. This time, we expect to exceed the margin of 91,000 votes which we secured last time. M T B Nagaraj has troubled a lot of our leaders and people on a personal level. Hence, there was no question of a compromise,” he asserted. According to him, voters are resonating with his message. 

Earlier this year, Sumalatha sought votes for Mandya’s self-esteem and went on to defeat then chief minister H D Kumaraswmay’s son Nikhil. 

With DH on his campaign trail, Sharath went to different parts of Hoskote amid much fanfare. Visits to the main temple in each village was a regular fixture. Gram panchayat members and village leaders gathered to take part in his campaign.

“My family has at least three decades of political history with this constituency. In each of the 300 villages here, we can identify a few households that have remained with us over three generations. I share a special relationship with these families,” said Sharath, who was a chief executive at a Bengaluru-based nutraceutical firm. He holds a mechanical engineering degree and did his MS in the US.

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