Lingayat tilt may give BJP the edge in Chincholi

Dr Avinash Jadhav (BJP)

An expected polarisation of votes of Banjara and Other Backward Communities appears to have given the BJP an edge in the high-voltage byelection to the poverty-stricken Chincholi Assembly constituency.

The byelection was necessitated after Dr Umesh Jadhav, his father, resigned from the Assembly membership and joined the BJP to take on Mallikarjun Kharge in the Lok Sabha polls.

Child trafficking

The Chincholi Assembly segment had earlier been in the news, owing to child trafficking in Konchavaram coming under this constituency. The government had then announced the setting up the training and production centre for producing traditional dresses worn by women from Banjara community to help them earn a living. It is yet to  materialise.

Tandas located in Konchavaram forest area have been facing displacement after it was declared a wildlife sanctuary. It is said that the then MLA, Umesh Jadhav, had promised to make efforts to get the wildlife sanctuary tag withdrawn. But, nothing was done, though he elected twice as MLA.

Like the Lok Sabha elections, the Lingayat community, which is a dominant community with about 45,000 votes in this segment, is likely to back the BJP owing to state BJP president B S Yeddyurappa, a Lingayat strongman. Votes of Banjara community will be divided between the BJP and Congress as both parties have fielded candidates belonging to the same community.

The Koli community, which has a sizable vote share, is likely to be split between the two parties. This segment has been a bastion of the Congress. Of the 14 elections held so for, the Congress won 11 times. The BJP won in 2008, Janata Dal in 1994 and JD(S) in 2004.

As this bypoll has turned into a prestige battle for Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge and his son, district incharge Minister Priyank Kharge, they are leaving no stone unturned to win the election.

BJP candidate Dr Avinash Jadhav, a politically greenhorn, is studying Doctor of Medicine (MD). In the changed political scenario, he has contested the by-poll.

Avinash is an unknown face in the constituency when compared to Congress candidate Subash Rathod, who has actively been working in the segment since long.

Rathod, a former ZP vice president, quit the Congress and joined the BJP in 2008 after the Congress denied him the ticket to contest from Chincholi.

Miffed with the BJP for fielding Umesh Jadhav from Gulbarga (SC) for the Lok Sabha election, he returned to the grand old party. He is an outsider to this segment.

The Koli community constitutes around 40,000 votes in the constituency, followed by 34,000 (Banjara), 26,000 (Dalits) and the segment has about 22,000 Muslim votes. The BJP is banking on votes belonging to Lingayat, Koli and Banjara communities, while the Congress is dependent on dalits, Muslims and the division of votes.

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