Sudhakar looks to find resonance for 'local boy' pitch

In his speeches, the candidate reaffirms people that he is their “son,” juxtaposing it with the backgrounds of JD(S) candidate Radhakrishna, from Shidlaghatta, and Congress candidate Anjanappa from Devanahalli. DH Photo

Disqualified legislator K Sudhakar, the BJP’s Chikballapur candidate, starts his speech to a rousing reception in Paiyoor, a village in the hinterland of the constituency.

As he begins speaking in Kannada, the villagers demand that he speak in Telugu. The constituency, which shares a border with Andhra Pradesh, has a significant Telugu-speaking population. Sudhakar switches to fluent Telugu, reassuring them of his kinship to the region.

In his speeches, the candidate reaffirms people that he is their “son,” juxtaposing it with the backgrounds of JD(S) candidate Radhakrishna, from Shidlaghatta, and Congress candidate Anjanappa from Devanahalli.

Nonetheless, electoral victory remains an uphill task for him. Last year, as a Congress candidate, Sudhakar secured 47.27% of the votes here, almost twice as that of the nearest rival from JD(S) KP Bachegowda (29.73%). The BJP’s vote share was a mere 3.21%.

A look into the political history of the constituency shows that there has been no BJP MLA here in the last 63 years and the region has more or less remained a Congress bastion.

Interaction with the locals shows a dilemma: Should their loyalties remain with the party or the candidate, who is now in the opposite camp?

“It’s a tough call. We know Sudhakar well. But I have always voted for Congress. I’m unsure which way my mind will sway,” says Narayanaswamy, an agriculturist. Many share his opinion.

Beyond the BJP-Congress binary, there is also resentment among a section of the population that the constituency has been neglected. The dissatisfaction was more pronounced in Chikkaballapur town.

“There have been several accidents in stretches where roads have been dug up and drains have been left open. We don’t venture out after sunset for the fear of mosquitoes swarming these open drains,” said Mohammed Babu, a shopkeeper.

His view was seconded by this friend Suresh B, an auto driver. “Access to drinking water is a huge problem. They have installed RO plants everywhere, but none of them is operational as the government has not paid salary to the staff here.”

However, Sudhakar was optimistic about his victory. “People have seen the work I have done. I have now ensured that a medical college is sanctioned. In the coming days, I will focus on building 5,000 houses for the poor,” he told DH. His journey from a medical professional to a politician has been long-winding. His entry into politics itself was by accident, Sudhakar explained, calling himself “destiny’s child.”

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