Karnataka Poll Watch 5 : Davanagere, Hassan, Shimoga

Political Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network

April 14, 2014

Davanagere: Mahima Patel’s entry adds element of suspense

Assembly seats: 8 
Total electorate: 15,26,370
Candidates in the fray: 19
Sitting MP:  G M Siddeshwara (BJP)

In Davanagere it is a tough fight for votes of the dominant Lingayat community among the 3 Lingayat candidates who are in the fray. Contrary to the widespread expectations of a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP Cotton city Davanagere is ready for a triangular contest, thus adding an element of suspense among voters.   While the entry of Mahima Patel, son of former Chief Minister late J H Patel has generated much interest it has upset the calculations of BJP and Congress candidates. Mahima Patel was a strong contender for Congress ticket from Davanagere as per the assurance given by the Congress during 2013 elections.  When the Congress failed to honour its commitment Mahima defected to his parent party JD(S).

G M Siddeshwara (BJP), S S Mallikarjuna (Cong), Mahima Patel (JDS)

Sitting MP G M Siddshwara of BJP is aiming for a hat trick with this victory while his two-time Congress opponent S S Mallikarjuna is trying to avenge the two successive defeats he suffered against him.   Congress won 7 of the 8 assembly seats in the 2013 elections and that speaks about the party’s upbeat mood in this election.  Apart from that the Congress also has the advantage of being the ruling party in the state to give it an edge over its closest rival.  The constituency has about 4 lakh Lingayat votes, 3 lakh SC and   2 lakh each of ST, Kuruba and Muslim votes.  While the Lingayat votes will be shared by all the three candidates the combined strength of Dalit, Kuruba and minority votes will be the deciding factor in deciding the winner.

Both the BJP and Congress candidates have educational institutions and business establishments in the district   and enjoy considerable clout.   JD(S) candidate Mahima Patel will be able to pocket more votes from his home hometown Chennagiri.  He is also expected to garner a good number of votes from the Lingayat Panchamasail as he belongs to Lingayat Banajiga, which is a sub-sect of Kingayat Panchamasali.   So the entire calculation hinges on the number of votes Mahima Patel manages to put in his kitty.   

Considering that Siddeshwar had won by a slender margin of over 2000 votes in 2009   the tempers are quite high in all the three camps and need we say it is going to be the survival of those who the people consider the best?    

Hassan:  Will Deve Gowda’s emerge successful in his political swan song?  

Assembly constituencies: 8
Total electorate: 15,23,524
Candidates in the fray: 14
Sitting MP:   H D Deve Gowda JD (S)

At 84, it is going to be an uphill task for six-time MP and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda to wield the kind of influence his family has wielded  over the constituency in the last five decades.  In this election he is facing a resurgent Congress which is working strenuously to end the suzerainty of Deve Gowda’s family over this constituency.  At the moment there are indications that Gowda is on a sticky wicket   as the Congress leadership headed by Siddramaiah has been working methodically and with renewed vigor to end Deve Gowda’s sway over Hassan.  Siddu has teamed up with Gowda’s bête noire and Congress bigwig D K Shivakumar in this mission.   Gowda’s challenger is A Manju of the Congress, a three-time MLA.  BJP has fielded former MP and present MLC C H Vijay Shankar. 

HD Deve Gowda (JDS), A Manju (Congress), CH Vijayashankar (BJP)

Hassan has been a strong fortress of the Deve Gowda family and in 2013 assembly elections the family reaffirmed its clout by winning 6 of the 8 assembly seats from here.  Congress won two seats while the BJP drew a blank.    Taking into consideration the grim situation, Deve Gowda has roped in all his six MLA’s to campaign for him.   Being an outsider Vijay Shankar who belongs to Mysore, finds it difficult to get a foothold here.  This is a Vokkaliga dominated constituency and the 5 lakh strong Vokkaliga voters   will have to choose between the Congress and BJP candidates who belong to the Vokkaliga community.   In this scenario, the support of Lingayats who form the second largest community here will be crucial for both the BJP and Congress. 

The rumour doing the rounds is that Deve Gowda has entered into a tacit understanding with the BJP and B S Yeddyurappa has even   spoken in favour of Gowda.  This also means that the Lingayats might vote for Gowda and in turn the JD(S) would ensure Yeddyurappa’s victory in Shimoga. 

Even as the Congress and JD(S) are trying their best to woo the voters, the BJP seems to have given up the challenge even before the elections and it has no base here. No prominent BJP leader has campaigned in favor of Vijay Shankar so far.

Deve Gowda is trying to strike a chord among the voters saying this will be his last election.   In 2009 he won by a margin of 2, 89,161 votes defeating K H Hanume Gowda of the BJP.    On the whole,  Deve Gowda is facing an acid test in his own backyard and there is a lurking  fear that his swan song may not be  as sweet as he expects it to be.

Shimoga:  BSY trying to assert his dominance   

Assembly constituencies: 8
Total Electorate: 14, 35,908
Candidates in the fray: 14
Sitting MP:  Raghavendra Yeddyurappa (BJP)

If one goes by the fanfare with which the film industry has rallied behind JD(S)  candidate  Geetha Shivarajkumar  in her campaign in Shimoga one is tend to believe that the battle is tough for former chief minister and BJP candidate B S Yeddyurappa. BSY is making his second attempt to enter Lok Sabha after his futile attempt in 1991.   For JD(S) which is starved of suitable candidates to fight elections  Geetha’s candidature is nothing short of a coup.   Congress has fielded a young and relatively non-entity Manjunath Bhandary, who is an officer bearer in Bangalore KPCC office overlooking the claims of Kumar Bangarappa, the estranged brother of Geetha.    Manjunath Bhandary who has a good clout with Congress higher ups, is a Mangalore-based businessman.  Be belongs to the Bunt community which has a negligible presence in Shimoga except in Byndoor.  

BS Yeddyurappa (BJP), Geetha Shivrajkumar (JDS), Manjunath Bhandary (Cong)

What clinched the issue in favor of Geetha as JD(S) candidate  is the advantage of her being matinee idol Dr Rajkumar’s  daughter-in-law, wife of actor Shivarajkumar and daughter of Shimoga’s son of the soil later S Bangarappa.  Bangarappa who hails from Soraba district of Shimoga is a household name   and JD(S) felt that only Geetha Shivarajkumar could be a formidable candidate against BSY. 
Though some of the JD(S) stalwarts were taken aback by her candidature initially they are  slowly reconciled to the fact.  With the stronghold of the Rajukumar family on the Kannada film industry, major players in the field have spared their valuable time to campaign in favor of  Geetha.  There is a lot of hype about Geetha being the dark horse capable of giving BSY the toughest fight of his career, which is easier said than done.   The calculation is that those who come to her election rallies to get a glimpse of film stars may not be potential voters for the party. 

While BSY’s opponents are making use of the corruption tag against him, a much mellowed Yeddyurappa has   restrained from harsh criticism fearing a backlash from voters and supporters.   Of course,  Yedduyrappa  does not enjoy the kind of adulation and support he had prior to 2008.  He has lost his credibility   following his outbursts against the party which he had built from scratch.  His hobnobbing with the Congress and other opponents has also not gone very well with his traditional supporters.   He is now trying to woo voters saying he would be a central minister under NDA.   But Yeddyurappa carries with him the baggage of corruption which the opponents of BJP are making use to discredit the party to deflate the issue of corruption.

For Geetha who is a political novice there is nothing else other than seeking votes in the name of her father and father-in-law.   It may be recalled that in 2009 Yeddyurappa’s son Raghavendra,  the sitting MP had defeated S Bangarappa  by over 50,000  clearly indicating the clout enjoyed by BSY family vis-à-vis Bangarappa family.   There is also the talk of tacit understanding between BJP and JD(S) as a quid-pro-quo for giving a breather to Deve Gowda in Hassan as he is finding the going tough. 

The contest in Shimoga is keenly awaited   as it would be crucial for  Yeddyurappa to reassert his position  in BJP. 


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Title: Karnataka Poll Watch 5 : Davanagere, Hassan, Shimoga

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