By Arun Lakshman
Hubbali, May 8 (IANS): Former Karnataka Chief Minister and six-time MLA from Hubbali, Jagadish Shettar is fighting a tough battle in his home constituency this time.
Shettar, who recently quit the BJP and joined the Congress after being denied an election ticket by the saffron camp, is contesting on a Congress ticket from his home turf in the May 10 Assembly elections.
However, at the ground level, things seem to be not working in favour of the soft-spoken veteran politician, who's known to have a corruption-free image.
Praveen Marathe, an autorickshaw driver in Hubbali, told IANS, "Shettar is a good leader but he has shifted to Congress which has not gone down well with the voters of Hubbali. This is a BJP bastion and Shettar will lose the polls this time."
The Hubbali region is a stronghold of the BJP and Shettar is one of the founding leaders of the party in the area, who built the party from the grassroots level.
The six-time MLA was denied a ticket by the BJP leadership, triggering a major outburst from Shettar who accused the party's national organising secretary, B.L. Santosh, as the man behind denying him a ticket.
Shettar also said that BJP is fast turning into a party dominated by only one section.
The former Chief Minister said that it was Prahlad Joshi, the only Lok Sabha member from Karnataka, who could get a Cabinet berth among the 25 party MLAs from the region and that was due to the fact that he was from a particular community.
Shettar also alleged Brahminical domination in the BJP and accused Santosh of calling the shots and sidelining other castes in the party.
Shettar had won the Hubbali seat in 2018 by a margin of 21,306 votes. However, it remains to be seen if the Hindu vote bank of Shettar will support him this time.
The plus point for Shettar is his clean image. Several local businessmen told IANS that he had never exploited them. Another factor is his easy accessibility and down-to-earth image.
The RSS-BJP combine is working hard at the grassroots level to defeat Shettar and if the Lingayat votes do not split, Shettar will have tough time.
The BJP candidate from Hubbali, Mahesh Tenginkai, told IANS, "The BJP will win the seat by a huge margin. It is the party which matters and not individuals, and the BJP has a strong base in this constituency. The development programmes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have given the people a clear choice in the elections."