Caste equations to play decisive role in Puttur constituency?

Stany Bela
Daijiworld Media Network - Puttur (NDF)

Puttur, May 10: The game-plan for the elections in Puttur this time revolves around caste factor rather than principles. The Gowda community forms the largest group of voters followed by the Muslims, Bunts, Billavas and Brahmins respectively.

This calculation can be seen at the forefront as campaigning intensifies around the constituency. The seer of Adichunchanagiri Math has visited Puttur thrice during the last year and during the first visit made a week-long trip around the villages stirring up the Gowda community. There is a feeling that this could influence the outcome of the election.

For this very reason, a question has now risen as to whether the Gowda community members will stand with Sanjeev Matandoor of BJP, a Gowda, and the Bunts support Shakuntala T Shetty of Congress, a Bunt. This is also a very important question when taken in the light of the results of the 2013 election. That was a time when the votes of both the Gowdas and Bunts though polarised towards their respective candidates, did not play out as a decisive factor on the result.

The Muslim community, which has the second largest number of voters, knows that its votes are also critical in determining the result of the election. If an intriguing contest ensues and a photo-finish is on the cards, the votes of the Billavas, Brahmins and other communities will be critical in determining the result.

Sanjeev Mattandoor believes that he will gain the Gowda votes primarily and can also anticipate some Hindu votes. I C Kailas, the JD(S) candidate is also a Gowda and this could result in the splitting of the Gowda community votes.

Mattandoor lost the 2013 elections because Dinesh B N of JD(S), who is also a Gowda, garnered 6,625 votes. There are approximately 3,000 votes traditionally cast in favour of JD(S). Losing or gaining on those votes is dependent more on the candidate. Just as Kailas has mounted a challenge on Matandoor, independent candidate Bashir Boodiyar stands in the way of Shakuntala Shetty. Along with these, MEP's Shabana Shiek and JD(U)'s Majeed N K are in the fray. The votes that these three candidates can garner will have an effect on the number of votes gained by Shakuntala Shetty.

This kind of internal opposition exists in the BJP too. After a boisterous initial phase, businessman and ticket aspirant, Ashok Rai is now silent. When Hindu outfit leader Arun Kumar Puttila was denied a ticket it made headlines. Ultimately, he made up his made to campaign.

Congress is advertising the achievements of their MLA and CM Siddaramaiah. The BJP is using the name of PM Modi and their ideology of Hindutva. However, it is known that the confusion with regard to candidacy is more in BJP than in Congress. BJP party workers are confident that they will get the Gowda community votes and the Hindutva votes and are proclaiming that they will be victorious.

Congress party workers say that their candidate Shakuntala Shetty would get all the votes of the Bunts, Muslims and Christians and would ideally get the votes of the Brahmins, and the other Hindus as well. Hence victory in this election, belongs to her.

As per Congress leaders, Shakuntala Shetty’s image of ‘Akka’ (elder sister) in constituency itself is enough to get votes for Congress. Her quality of intervening in the issues affecting people in surrounding areas makes her popular. So this time also Puttur stands with Congress, analysts say.


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