Karnataka Poll Watch 3: Koppal, Bidar, Bellary

Political correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network

April 12, 2014


Assembly segments – 8
Total electorate:  15,34,000
Sitting MP:   Shivaramagouda Shivanagouda (BJP)
Candidates in the fray: 16

Koppal  Lok Sabha constituency which is one of the most backward districts in the state  has generated much interest in the state for reasons more than one.  It was a strong Congress fortress until it threw up a surprise by electing BJP’s Shivaramegowda in 2009.    The JD(S) has failed to field a candidate here because they could not find a suitable person to contest.  AAP has fielded a visually impaired candidate in which has given a new ray of hope for the disabled community all over the country and also lot of publicity. 

The three major players in the field are Karadi Sanganna of BJP, Basavaraj Hitnal of Congress and Shivakumar N Tontapura of Aam Aadmi Party is also creating news.  The BJP replaced its sitting MP by fielding Sanganna, a known defector who belongs to the majority Lingayat community.  His candidature was finalized despite stiff opposition from BJP leaders like Eshwarappa and Anantha Kumar.  The BJP believes that the Lingayat factor which brought victory to the party in 2009 will work in its favour this year too.  The Congress has fielded a Kuruba leader which means that leaders of two prominent communities of Koppal are in the fray.

Karadi Sanganna (BJP), Basavaraj Hitnal (Cong),  Shivakumar N Tontapura (AAP)

For the BJP it is a challenge to retain the seat it won for the first time in 2009 and for the Congress the fight is to regain its fortress and both have a difficult task on hand.  The Congress has every reason to be buoyant as it had managed to win 6 out of the 8 assembly seats in 2013 leaving the remaining two to BJP and JD(S) each.  The JD(S) has a solid base here.   Though JD(S) has not fielded its
candidate there are rumours that its lone MLA Iqbal Ansari has promised his support for the Congress though JD (S) chief Deve Gowda has denied it.  Given the charged atmosphere in the district there is a possibility of an internal understanding between the Congress and JD(S) and that is the advantage for the Congress to ride piggyback on the combined strength of Kuruba and minority votes.

For BJP candidate the only hope is the 50,000 odd votes of new voters who are inclined to the idea of Modi as PM and might vote for him.  Since it was Yeddyurappa who rooted for Sanganna’s candidature Lingayats might once again support the BJP candidate.  The merger of KJP and BSR Congress has given fresh lease of life to the BJP.

AAP candidate Shivakumar N Tontapura might have garnered sympathy but that might not translate into votes considering the role of the caste factor. 


Assembly segments – 8
Total Electorate: 15,47,651.
Sitting MP – Dharam Singh  (INC)
Candidate in fray :  24

Though Bidar has the tradition of witnessing a straight fight between the Congress and BJP the situation has changed this time with JD(S) posing threat to the supremacy of these traditional rivals.   Bidar parliamentary constituency was much in the news after the 2013 assembly elections as  the people were quite liberal in electing five candidates belonging to five different political parties – Congress, BJP, JD(S), KJP and Karnataka Makkala Paksha of Ashok Kheni.  It is in the news in this elections too largely because former Chief Minister and veteran politician Dharama Singh is the Congress candidate taking on BJP’s  little known Bhagwant Khuba and JD (S) candidate Bandeppa Kashempur.

Dharam Singh (Cong), Bandeppa Kashempur (BJP)

Sitting MP Dharam Singh had a great sigh of relief when the BJP   blundered in choosing a little known entity in Khuba, reportedly due to the intervention of yoga guru Baba Ramdev, overlooking the claims of senior BJP leader and local satrap Gurupadappa Nagamarapalli or his son.  This has set the tongues wagging that there is an internal understanding between the Congress and BJP bigwigs.  Nagamarapalli has refused to campaign in favour of Khuba and there is confusion in BJP rank and file.  But Singh cannot take things lying down mainly because JD(S) has fielded a local bigwig Bandeppa Kashempur who is quite capable of changing the fortunes of the favourites.   Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has campaigned in the constituency for a day seeking votes for his protégé.  If there is anything that can stall the Dharam Singh Juggernaut from rolling, it is Modi wave, Ramdev influence or Kashempur impact.   Besides his old age and failing health is also something that might not work in his favour.

The Congress has 3 MLA’s in Bidar and these constituencies might give the  lead to Dharam Singh.  But he will have to slog it out in the remaining five considering that Kashempur has taken the trouble of home-to-home campaigning in the rural areas.   If Kashempur is able to garner the support of backward class the going will be tough for Congress in this triangular fight.  AAP candidate Chandrakant Kulkarni and BSP candidate Shankar Bhayya are also among the 24 candidates in the fray.  But  their presence may not cut much ice with the voters where caste and power are viewed as the two major criteria for winning.

Prima facie Dharam Singh is all set for another term in the Lok Sabha.  But certainty is something that is hard to find in politics.


• Assembly seats:
• Total electorate:   14.50,000
• Sitting M P : J Shantha (BJP)  
• Candidates in the fray: 13 

Bellary is known for the ugly demonstration of men, muscle and money power that was rampant in elections until the fall of the high and mighty mining barons.  In fact in Bellary which was the waterloo for the BJP in Karnataka and its leader B S Yeddyurappa, ironically the major  issue in the elections is corruption.   It is Congress corruption at the national level and BJP corruption at the state level during the infamous rule of Yeddyurappa that is creating quite a scene in the state.

Sriramulu (BJP), Hanumanthappa (Cong)

Bellary was strong Congress bastion till 2004 when it went into the BJP fold.  In 2009 BJP fielded J Shantha, sister of Sriramulu, who won the elections by a narrow margin of 2,243 votes against the Congress candidate.

For the Congress winning Bellary will be of utmost importance for another reason also.  It was in Bellary Congress President Sonia Gandhi made her electoral debut in 1999 when she defeated BJP strongwoman Sushma Swaraj by a margin of over 50,000 votes.

BJP has fielded nephew of Reddy brother Sriramulu   who left behind his outfit BSR Congress to make a comeback to the BJP fold after a gap of two years.  He is facing Congress candidate N Y Hanumanthappa, a retired chief justice.  Sriramulu was given the ticket despite stiff opposition from their former mentor Sushma Swaraj as the BJP went by electoral arithmetic to overrule its own senior party leader.  Sriramulu   enjoys good support among the strong Valmiki community in the district which is reserved for Scheduled Tribe community.  The battle is poised evenly and Sriramulu who belongs to ST tribe enjoys the support of nearly 75 per cent of the four lakh Valmiki population.    Congress candidate Hanumanthappa also belongs to the Valmiki community.

Sriramulu has demonstrated his clout in Bellary when the BSR party he floated won three of the eight assembly seats in Bellary leaving 3 seats to Congress and one each to BJP and JD(S).  But all the three MLA’s of his party are in jail though BJP and BSR Congess will together have sway over four constituencies.  Sriramulu also has the support of the youth brigade in the constituency.  Sriramulu is also banking on the Modi factor for his victory.

For the Congress 73 year old Hanumanthappa is more of a liability because he was not seen in the constituency after he lost by a narrow margin in 2009.   But the Congress has the advantage of being the ruling party and the Bellary City Corporation and Zilla Panchayat is also under its rule. 

Aam Aadmi candidate journalist-turned politician Shivakumar Malagi is trying to get maximum mileage by using the corruption tag of the major contenders to his advantage.  At 31, he is rooting for the support of youth who are inclined more towards Sriramulu. Malagi has accused Hanumanthappa of not making way for youngsters in the party and  also for his studied silence on corruption of Reddy brothers.

Despite the waning influence of Reddys one cannot ignore them altogether and that is what going to make this contest an interesting battle.   


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Comment on this article

  • vinayak prabhu, mangalore

    Sat, Apr 12 2014

    Out of 9 constituency posted in daiji 5 to 7 bjp and 2 to 4 congress

    DisAgree [20] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • vittal Poojary, Muniyal/mangalore

    Sun, Apr 13 2014

    Dear All
    nothing for congress so far everywhere in India
    People of Karnataka are intelligent and they know that Mr.Modi will be the PM,why they will vote for congress?see what is happening in Delhi,UP.MP,Rajastan,Gujarath,no single seat will be won by congress

    DisAgree [25] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dinesh Poojary, Kundapura/Bengaluru

    Sat, Apr 12 2014

    Bidar BJP has two groups due to denial of ticket to Gurupadappa's son. This may benefit congress. So it is 50:50.

    In Koppala and Ballary, BJP is going to win by huge margin.

    DisAgree [21] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

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Title: Karnataka Poll Watch 3: Koppal, Bidar, Bellary

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