Seasoned politicos locked in straight fight at Yellapur

Yellapur constituency

JD(S) Yellapur candidate Chaitra Gowda

Arabail Shivaram Hebbar, who resigned as Congress MLA and is fielded as the BJP candidate in the byelection from Yellapur constituency in Uttara Kannada district, is locked in a direct fight from the Congress.

Bhimanna Naik, Congress’ defeated candidate in Sirsi constituency last year, is likely to give a tough fight for Hebbar this time, as top Congress leaders are leaving no stone unturned to garner support.

Leaders shifting sides has created a fluid political situation in the constituency, which includes Yellapur taluk, Mundgod taluk, and Banavasi hobli in Sirsi taluk. Like the geography of the constituency, voters’ opinion also seems complex.

At Bharatanahalli village in Yellapur taluk, people said Hebbar should not have left Congress. However, a farmer at Dehalli in another part of the taluk, said, “We needed Hebbar, but not Congress. That dilemma has gone now.”

Near Kathur in Mundgod taluk, Kamalakar Naik and others felt that the byelections were unnecessary, and people were not interested this time.

Former MLA V S Patil, who was BJP candidate against Hebbar in the last three elections, has been made the NWKRTC chairman now. He is campaigning for Hebbar, but his son has joined Congress. Several supporters of Hebbar have come from Congress to the BJP, while Ravindra Naik, JD(S) candidate in 2018, is with the Congress. Such changes have made things complex.

For BJP, having co-ordination between original BJP workers and Hebbar’s supporters who have come from Congress has become a challenge.

Brahmins, Lingayats, Marathas and Namadharis are the deciding castes. Hebbar is a Brahmin and Bhimanna comes from Namadhari community. Both parties are using leaders from major communities for campaigning. Congress brought former speaker Ramesh Kumar, while Kumar Bangarappa campaigned for BJP, indicating how parties are trying to get votes from the community of their opponent.

Naik says people would not support a ‘disqualified’ person who betrayed the voters.

“We are highlighting the welfare schemes implemented by the Siddaramaiah government,” he told DH. Hebbar said he was 200% sure of victory, as people knew development was possible under BJP rule.

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