Parched Chitradurga promises mouth-watering contest

Parched Chitradurga promises mouth-watering contest

Reeling under severe drought for decades, the historic constituency of forts - Chitradurga in Central Karnataka - is set for an interesting political battle. The district, a stronghold of the Congress since 1952, has, of late, witnessed the emergence of the saffron wave with BJP winning the seat once in 2009 and polling a good chunk of votes in 2014 and winning five out of eight Assembly seats last year. Unlike other constituencies, Chitradurga is poised for a battle between two ‘outsiders’—incumbent Congress parliamentarian B N Chandrappa and BJP’s A Narayanaswamy.

Dominated by electorate from the schedule castes, the national parties have fielded candidates belonging to the SC (Madiga) community. The Congress, which had wrested its seat from the BJP last time, was hoping for an easy victory. However, the BJP deciding to field former minister and four-time MLA from Anekal A Narayanaswamy, has made the fight interesting with candidates working on caste equations and the issue of internal reservation among dalits, besides the traditional vote banks.

Even though the BJP, planning to take the seat away from Congress, had begun its preparations much ahead than the coalition partners, inordinate delay in finalising the candidates has affected its campaign pace. Nevertheless, the RSS pracharaks and the volunteers of Shakti Kendras at booth level had accomplished a greater task of reaching out to the masses.

BJP's cadre strength

“Our well-networked cadre is our strength. Their hard work over the past one year has begun to yield results so much so that even in Vokkaliga-dominated areas, we are able to see people impressed by the Narendra Modi-led NDA government,” said a BJP functionary from the district.

Leaders of the two parties have been sweating it out under the sweltering heat by embarking on roadshows and door-to-door campaigns in the taluks.

The BJP suffered initial hiccups with the dominant Bhovi community boycotting the party for denying tickets to leaders from the community. Even though the two BJP MLAs openly registered their dissent, they have now accepted the party decision and are actively campaigning for the candidate.

Cong candidate 'accessible'

Chandrappa, hailed as ‘humble and accessible,’ faces the charges of not living up to the promises made in 2014. The BJP is banking heavily on the prolonged delay in completion of Upper Bhadra project that would supply water to the district, besides the unfulfilled promise of Davangere-Chitradurga-Tumakuru rail link.  

Poll pundits in the district say since the candidates belong to the same community (Madigas) and this will divide the votes. Many argue that the Congress will have an upper hand, with the votes of the Bhovi community and the party’s traditional vote bank coming in handy.

The BJP is hopeful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit (April 9) will swing the trend in its favour. Interestingly, the Chitradurga, since 1999, have chosen a new candidate in every election.

“As the BJP is asking people to vote in the name of Modi, we are telling them about the need to safeguard the Constitution, under threat during Modi’s regime and telling them about the welfare schemes launched by the prent and previous governments in Karnataka,” a Congress worker said.


Key Contestants in Chitradurga

1. B N Chandrappa (INC)

2. A Narayanaswamy (BJP)

Total number of voters :---

Men-- 8,89,274

Women-- 8,71,009

Assembly Seats: Chitradurga (BJP), Hiriyur (BJP), Challakere (Cong), Holalkere (BJP), Hosadurga (BJP), Molkalmur (BJP), Sira (JD-S) and Pavagada (Cong).

2014 Results:

Winner: B N Chandrappa (INC)

Votes polled: 4,67,511

Runner-up: Janardhanaswamy (BJP)

Votes polled: 3,66,220