Shishyas going all out to defeat Guru in Gulbarga

The Gulbarga parliamentary (SC reserved) seat is witnessing a hot contest in Hyderabad-Karnataka region with veteran Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge’s one-time shishyas going all out stop the victory juggernaut of their political guru.

Four prominent Congress leaders – Malikayya Guttedar, Baburao Chinchansur, Dr A B Maalakaraddy (all former ministers) and Umesh Jadhav, who were groomed in politics by Kharge, have jumped ship to the BJP in Kalaburagi. Jadhav, who had won from Chincholi (SC reserved) Assembly seat, recently joined the saffron party which has fielded him against Kharge in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections scheduled for April 23.

These leaders are sweating it out in the sweltering heat of Kalaburagi to disprove that the veteran Congress man is an undefeatable leader. Kharge, who is a leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, has never tasted defeat in his nearly five decades-long political career. He has won Assembly elections nine times in a row and parliamentary polls twice.

The BJP poll managers said the party has decided to focus on Gulbarga seat so as to make maximum impact in the entire Hyderabad-Karnataka region, comprising five parliamentary constituencies. The party, therefore, planned the Gulbarga election strategy much in advance. So much so that Jadhav’s candidature was also finalised months before the elections were announced.

In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kickstarted his election rallies in Karnataka from Kalaburagi. The saffron party is trying to cash in on dissidence in the Kalaburagi Congress. Like Guttedar, Chinchansur and Maalakaraddy, local Congress leaders are upset with Kharge promoting his son Priyank in politics. Priyank Kharge is currently Social Welfare Minister.

The region has traditionally been a Congress stronghold, and the BJP’s influence had been dwindling here of late. The BJP lost Bellary seat in the byelections held in November last year. Of the five constituencies, the BJP currently has only two – Bidar and Koppal. Three other seats, Gulbarga, Raichur and Bellary, are held by the Congress.

However, Kharge has proved himself to be a hard nut to crack: He has roped into the Congress many BJP leaders who were upset with the party. Prominent among them are K B Shanappa, a senior Dalit leader, Babu Rao Chavan and Subhash Rathod. Revu Naik Belamagi, former minister and a prominent Banjara community leader, is also campaigning for Kharge this time. Belamagi, who is now in the JD(S), had contested as the BJP candidate in the previous two elections.

Moreover, Kharge’s strong support base across the constituency, which he has built over the years, is something the BJP is finding it difficult to match. The saffron party does not have a strong organisational base in Kalaburagi, the BJP’s poll managers said.

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Shishyas going all out to defeat Guru in Gulbarga

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