Kothur Manjunath's exit leaves Mulbagal flustered

Kothur Manjunath's exit leaves Mulbagal flustered

As people go about their daily grind unmindful of the sweltering heat in this dusty little town, one can barely sense the strong undercurrents of political intrigue at play here.

However, Mulbagal or ‘Moodala Bagilu’, the easternmost frontier of the state is gripped by a feverish obsession of one politician — ‘Kothur’ G Manjunath. Ironically, Manjunath isn’t even in the fray in the upcoming Assembly elections.

His electoral fate was sealed after the Karnataka High Court set aside his election for producing an illegal caste certificate in the 2013 Assembly elections. Subsequently, he was also barred from contesting the May 12 polls from Mulbagal.

Though Manjunath has paid a heavy price for his claims of being a ‘beda jangama’ (SC), he continues to hold a strong sway over the electorate. He has now become a catalyst for the new political developments in the Assembly segment.

Referring to him in reverential tones, people bemoan his misfortune, as if it is they who have been struck by tragedy.

Kothur Manjunath devudulanti vyakti. Ilaanti punyatmudu inkevaru ledu,” cried a Telugu-speaking Anjaneyachari, who ekes out his living as a stonecutter in this rocky terrain.

With Manjunath’s exit, utter chaos prevails in the Congress, as it has no official candidate in the election. Though Manjunath had won the 2013 election as an Independent, he had later joined the Congress, which announced him as its candidate.

The Congress is also plagued by infighting with MP K H Muniyappa and Manjunath (backed by Health Minister K R Ramesh Kumar) at loggerheads. Strongly opposed to Manjunath’s candidature, Muniyappa is said to have conspired against the 39-year-old, triggering a dissent in the entire Kolar district.

Muniyappa had even made his younger daughter, Nandini, enter the fray as an Independent candidate from Mulbagal. Sensing an unfavourable court verdict, Manjunath had filed nominations from Kolar as well. When both camps avowed to hamper each others’ prospects, the Congress leadership intervened and gave control over Mulbagal to Manjunath. It announced that it would support any Independent candidate backed by Manjunath.

After this, Manjunath withdrew his candidature from Kolar, and so did Nandini from Mulbagal. Manjunath is yet to zero in on the candidate of his liking.

While the BJP candidate Amaresh is a miffed Congressman, the JD(S) candidate Samruddhi Manjunath is a recent entrant to the constituency. 

Mulbagal, a one time Congress bastion, has 39 candidates battling their way to power — the highest this election.