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'Son’rise in BJP, JD(S) Seeks to Eclipse Congress in Haveri
by Gabriel Vaz

Bangalore, Apr 26: Dynasty politics is not confined to Congress alone. Not content with fielding his elder son, B Y Raghavendra, as the BJP candidate to take on former chief minister S Bangarappa from Shimoga parliamentary constituency , Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, went out of the way to prop up the candidature of his public works minister C M Udasi’s son, Shivakumar Udasi, from the newly carved out Haveri lok sabha constituency.  And, JD(S) has fielded former minister S S Patil’s son, Shivakumar Gowda Patil.
The Congress party, which must be regarded as the initiator of this practice of perpetuating family rule both at the national and state level, is now left to face a stiff challenge from the sons of two prominent political leaders of rival parties in Haveri. It has fielded former government chief whip in the council Saleem Ahmed, who had served as National Students Union of India president until recently.
Though there are 12 candidates in the fray for the Haveri seat going to polls in the second phase on April 30, the main contest revolves around Congress, BJP and JD(S), though not necessarily in that order.  What is striking about the three main candidates involved in a stiff triangular contest is the fact they are young, representing perhaps the new and youthful face of democratic India.

Saleem Ahmed (Congress), Shivakumargouda (JDS), Shivakumar Udasi (BJP)

Incidentally, Yeddyurappa, C M Udasi or S S Patil are not the only politicians seeking to promote their wards. JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda’s two sons, H D Kumaraswamy and H D Revanna and now even daughter-in-law Anita Kumaraswamy, Bangarappa’s son Kumar Bangarappa and unsuccessful projection of Madhu Bangarappa, Devaraj Urs’ daughter Chandraprabha Urs,  S R Bommai’s son Basavaraj Bommai, J H Patel’s son Mahima Patel, Veerendra Patil’s son Kailash and son-in-law B G Javali, S Nijalingappa’s son-in-law M V Rajashekaran are some of the outstanding examples of the progeny of state’s top political leaders.  Even Ramakrishna Hegde’s son Bharat Hegde had dabbled in politics while daughter Mamata Nichani had unsuccessfully tested the political waters.

Haveri became a separate parliamentary constituency from out of the existing Dharwad South after delimitation, which had been considered a Congress bastion.  While Kundagol and Shiggaon assembly segments which formed part of the Dharwad South have now been shifted to Dharwad North, Ranebennur, Hirekerur, Byadagi, Haveri and Hanagal from Haveri district and Shirahatti, Ron and Gadag from the Gadag district come under the Haveri constituency. Apart from the Byadagi chillies, which are quite popular among gourmets, the region also has the state’s only peacock reserve at Bankapur and bosts of being the home of the legendary Bhakta Kanakadasa and poets Sarvajnya and Shishunal Sharief.

With BJP winning seven out of the eight assembly segments coming under the Haveri constituency in last year’s elections and Udasi being the district in-charge minister for Haveri and B Sriramulu serving as the in-charge minister for Gadag, the ruling party is cocksure of winning the seat. Apart from these two ministers, Basavaraj Bommai who hails from the district has considerable influence in the region, especially among his Lingayat community to which also Udasi belongs.
But Congressmen are not entirely despondent. The party hopes to make a good showing in the constituency as the erstwhile Dharwad South had always elected Muslims with F H Mohsin winning five times in a row to B M Mujahid and I G Sanadi of Congress with Lok Shakti’s B M Mensinkai, a staunch Hegde loyalist, bagging the seat in 1998. In the 2004 elections, however, BJP’s Manjunath Kunnur, a Lingayat, had won the seat. Kunnur is among the state’s three BJP MPs who voted in favour of the Indo-US N-Deal in the trust vote sought by Congress-led UPA regime in parliament along with H T Sangliana and Manorama Madhwaraj, and later joined the Congress party to become its candidate from Dharwad. Obviously, bearing in mind the Kunnur factor and his influence among the Lingayat voters and the large number of Muslims in the region, the Congress party has fielded Saleem Ahmed.

What should work to the advantage of Congress is the JD(S) decision of fielding prominent Lingayat leader of the region S S Patil’s son, Shivakumar, both of whom joined the party after quitting Congress.  With the two Lingayat candidates from BJP and JD(S) fighting among themselves for the community’s support, the Congress is pinning its hopes on the backing of minorities, especially Muslims, and its traditional support base of Dalits and backward classes. Though it is common knowledge that Lingayat community has by and large shifted its allegiance to BJP, Congressmen are striving their best to snatch at least a portion of the community’s votes. With this objective in mind, senior Congress leaders from the region like H K Patil, D R Patil and K B Koliwad along with the lone  Hirekerur Congress MLA from the constituency, B C Patil, are striving to woo the Lingayat community voters to the extent possible and romp home to victory with its committed votes.

For the record, though, the Congress party’s hopes do not seem to be entirely misplaced going by the total votes polled by it vis-ŕ-vis BJP in the 2008 assembly polls. Though BJP bagged seven of the eight assembly segments leaving one to Congress, the total votes polled by the ruling party were around 3.86 lakh against 3.34 lakh by Congress accounting for a difference of roughly 50,000 votes. In the 10 months since the BJP’s rise to power, there has been considerable resentment among the people and farmers, which ironically started with the police firing against farmers in Haveri within days of Yeddyurappa becoming chief minister over the shortage of fertilizers and agricultural seeds.  Even assuming that the pattern of voting in the assembly polls holds, all that the Congressmen need to do is cut down BJP’s lead by 25,000 to 30,000 votes. ``We are definitely going to do much better and get sizeable chunk of Lingayat votes besides our traditional support base from minorities, dalits, lambanis and kurubas and win the seat,’’ remarked H K Patil. 
Whether the Congress party’s gamble of fielding a young Muslim candidate and take advantage of the bitter fight among the sons of the two prominent leaders from BJP and JD(S) from the majority Lingayat community pays off or not is the big question.

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Article Title ls_election : 'Son’rise in BJP, JD(S) Seeks to Eclipse Congress in Haveri
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