A Cong-BJP fight masquerading as triangular contest

A Cong-BJP fight masquerading as triangular contest

After over a decade, since the 2008 poll, Hunsur Assembly constituency is witnessing a triangular fight. Otherwise, it used to be a straight fight between Congress and JD(S), the traditional rivals in the region.

Even earlier, the BJP was in the fray seriously, but only in a few elections — 1991 bypoll, 1994, 1999 and 2008. Ex-MP C H Vijayashankar was the candidate in 1991, having switched from the Congress, and in 1994. He won the latter election, opening the account for the BJP in the segment. In 1999, V Papanna, who defected from Janata Dal, won. In 2008, G T Devegowda, who crossed over from JD(S), managed to secure the third place.

Main contestants

Among 10 candidates in the fray now, the fight is between ex-MLAs Adagooru H Vishwanath and H P Manjunath of the BJP and Congress, respectively. First-time candidate Devarahalli Somasekhar has been fielded from the JD(S). The bypoll is necessitated due to the resignation of Vishwanath, who was elected on a JD(S) ticket in the 2018 election. It was his first election from Hunsur segment in his 45-year political career. He belongs to the neighbouring KR Nagar segment, now represented by Sa Ra Mahesh of JD(S).

Manjunath was elected in 2008 and 2013 and defeated in 2018, while his father was Congress candidate in 1983 and 1998. Somasekhar is a successful contractor and is a popular person in the segment.

Initially, Manjunath seemed to have an edge, when the nomination papers were being filed. Opposition Leader Siddaramaiah, KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao, ex-deputy CM G Parameshwara and former minister D K Shivakumar campaigned for him at different times. However, Siddaramaiah is his ‘god father’. This factor is having a negative impact on his prospects. The voters of Kuruba community, the fourth largest in the segment, who supported Manjunath in the last election, are sore over Siddaramaiah, for causing disqualification of a few community MLAs. The return of ex-MP Vijayashankar, a Kuruba leader, who had joined the Congress in 2017, is also helping Vishwanath, also a Kuruba. Manjunath do not have the support of his own community, the Arya Vaishyas, which has a microscopic population.

JD(S) leaders, who are up in arms against Siddaramaiah, also do not want Manjunath to win. Even though the JD(S) has a score to settle with Vishwanath, who joined the party to become MLA and also state president, to resign later, the leaders are going slow on him.

Still, JD(S) leaders ex-CM H D Kumaraswamy, ex-minister H D Revanna and Revanna’s son Prajwal are campaigning for the party. Besides, the ground work by ex-minister C P Yogeeshwar, who was an aspirant of BJP ticket here, has polarised a section of Vokkaligas, the second largest ethnicity.

The voters of ST (Nayaka) community, who take a lead in celebrating Hanuma Jayanthi and have an inclination towards BJP, have expressed their solidarity with Minister B Sriramulu. While a majority of the Lingayat voters are expected to vote for the BJP, the Congress is banking on minority votes. Both their numbers are almost the same, in the fifth place.

The highest number of voters belong to SC communities, who are not as vocal as others on their choice. Meanwhile, the BJP is concentrating on other minor communities too.