Seasoned politicians locked in straight fight

Seasoned politicians locked in straight fight

Yellapur constituency

Arabail Shivaram Hebbar, who resigned as Congress MLA and is fielded as the BJP candidate in the byelection from Yellapur constituency in Uttara Kannada district, is locked in a direct fight from the Congress.

Bhimanna Naik, Congress’ defeated candidate in Sirsi constituency last year, is likely to give a tough fight for Hebbar this time, as top Congress leaders, including former minister R V Deshpande, are also leaving no stone unturned to garner support for the party in the by-elections.

Leaders shifting sides has created a fluid political situation in the constituency, which includes Yellapur taluk, Mundgod taluk, and Banavasi hobli in Sirsi taluk. Like the geography of the constituency, voters’ opinion also seems to be complex.

At Bharatanahalli village in Yellapur taluk, those discussing about the ensuing paddy harvest were of the opinion that Hebbar should not have left the Congress.

However, a farmer at Dehalli in another part of the taluk, said, “We needed Hebbar, but not the Congress, in the previous elections. That dilemma has gone now."

Near Kathur in Mundgod taluk, Kamalakar Naik and others felt that the byelections were unnecessary, and people were not interested this time.

Leaders' shift

Former MLA V S Patil, who was BJP candidate against Hebbar in the last three elections, has been made the NWKRTC chairman now. He is campaigning for Hebbar, but his son has joined the Congress. Several supporters of Hebbar have come from the Congress to the BJP, while Ravindra Naik, JD(S) candidate in 2018, is with the Congress. Such changes have made the situation in the constituency very complex.

For the BJP, having co-ordination between original BJP workers and Hebbar’s supporters who have come from the Congress has become a challenge. Meanwhile, Congress leaders are trying to bring Hebbar’s supporters back to the party fold.

Brahmins, Lingayats, Marathas and Namadharis are the deciding castes here. Hebbar is a Brahmin and Bhimanna comes from Namadhari community. Both parties are using leaders from major communities for campaigning. Congress brought former speaker Ramesh Kumar, while Kumar Bangarappa campaigned for BJP, indicating how both the parties are trying to get votes from the community of their opponent.

Naik says people would not support a 'disqualified' person who betrayed the party and voters.

"We are also highlighting the welfare schemes implemented during the Siddaramaiah government. Even BJP leaders who fought against Hebbar earlier are coming to us now and my victory is sure," he told DH, adding that Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had come to seek votes now, but he did not come when people were in serious trouble due to the heavy rains recently.

Hebbar said he was 200% sure of victory, as people knew that development was possible under the BJP government, adding that he resigned because development of his constituency could not be undertaken under the JD(S)-Congress coalition government.