Old warhorses cross swords in Chikkodi's keen contest

Will the BJP candidate Annasaheb Jolle benefit from the Narendra Modi wave or will Congress candidate and sitting MP Prakash Hukkeri manage to retain the constituency based on his track record of being a performer? This is the million dollar question being asked in Chikkodi constituency.

Examba town in Chikkodi taluk is home to both Jolle and Hukkeri. Earlier, the town was part of the erstwhile Sadalaga Assembly segment and Jolle had lost the election against Hukkeri there in 2004. In the 2018 Assembly election, he lost to Prakash's son Ganesh Hukkeri.

Chikkodi constituency is a multilingual one, with large sections of voters speaking both Kannada and Marathi, besides other languages. Jolle and Hukkeri have a background of cooperative institutions and the former heads a cooperative society spread across the district.

The Congress had last won the constituency in 1991. After delimitation, the constituency - which was reserved for Scheduled Castes, became general and Hukkeri won back the constituency from BJP in the 2014 election, though by a slender margin. The only grouse the voters have against him is that he did not reach out to them and party workers too have expressed their ire against this attitude of the MP.

Jolle is considered a ‘white collar’ politician by the people here. Many from Chikkodi taluk complain that he makes people wait for long hours when they want to meet him for various works.

Both Jolle and Hukkeri belong to the dominant Lingayat community in the constituency. Kuruba, Maratha, Muslim and Jain too form considerable chunk of voters in different Assembly segments under the constituency.

BJP and Congress have four MLAs each in the constituency. Nippani, Hukkeri, Raibag and Kuduchi have BJP MLAs, while Chikkodi-Sadalga, Yamakanamaradi, Athani and Kagwad have Congress MLAs. Hukkeri MLA Umesh Katti’s brother Ramesh, also former MP from the constituency, was denied the BJP ticket and it needs to be seen whether they will support the party candidate.

The stand taken by the supporters of disgruntled Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi (Congress) will also have an impact on the result as he enjoys considerable clout in some of the Assembly segments. Athani MLA Mahesh Kumathalli and MLC Vivekrao Patil are staunch supporters of the senior Jarkiholi and their stance too could impact the results, say political observers.

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