Karnataka Assembly Election 2018: Key players well ensconced

South India

BANGALORE: While Chief Minister Siddramaiah is facing tough fight in Chamundeshwari and Badami constituencies, the other key players in Karnataka politics areseem to be well ensconced in their respective constituencies.

While his rival contender for thechief minister’s post BS Yeddyurappa and Janata Dal (S) chief H D Kumaraswamy, whom poll pundits consider as a king maker in the event of a hung assembly, have taken their win for granted, the second-rung leaders like K S Eashwarappa of BJP and G Parameshwara and D Shivakumar of Congress are banking on a mixture of factors to remain in the reckoning for the top post. The South Indian Post is taking a broad look at the factors at work in these key constituencies.


The Siddaramiah government had launched the AHINDA scheme and accorded minority religion status to the Lingayat community for minority religion status to break the convention of Karnataka voting out the incumbent government. If this cocktail works, the party candidate should win the Shikaripura seat hands down. However, Yeddyurappa, who is a member of the Lingayat community, which is the largest caste block in the constituency, is least worried. He feels that he doesn’t have to even campaign in Shikaripura to win the seat. The Congress seems to have made it easy for him by fielding first time contestant Goni Malathesh, who is not even much known to the Congress workers. Yeddyurappa. who represented Shikaripura seven times before making his debut as a Lok Sabha member from Shimoga in the last polls, told the Economic Times that he was confident that his party supporters will mop up a huge majority to him and allow him to concentrate on bringing the party to power in the state. 


However, a section of the party workers is not happy with his performance as MLA and MP. They feel he has not done much for the development of the constituency. The party strategists are not worried about this since a section of people in every constituency nurse such grievance against incumbents. Located in Shimoga district, Shikaripura has a total electorate of 122069 as per the 2017 voter list. Voter turnout in the 2013 assembly election, in which his son Raghavendra beat the Congress candidate by over 6000 votes, was 80.21% where as it was 77.39% in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. The BJP, the INC and the JD(S) got 1.72%, 32.26% and 10.83% votes respectively in 2013 while 62.25%, 15.04% and 19.35% in 2014 respectively.


The contest in Shivamogga has evinced interest in the political circles as BJP candidateS Eshwarappais believed to be a leader with the chief ministerial stuff. The 69-year-old leader had shot into fame after the party increased its number in the Assembly from just four to 40 during his as term as the state chief of the saffron party. Eshwarappa had laid a strong foundation for the party along with Yeddyurappa and H N Ananthkumar. Political analysts believe that he had squandered his chances to become the chief minister by following a harsh style. This had led to frictions with Yeddyurappa and many thought the latter may use his clout to deny him a ticket this time. However, the party leader patched up with him considering his potential as a senior Kuruba community leader.


Eshwarappa began his electoral journey by winning Shimoga seat in 1989. Even though he lost the election in 1999, he remained a legislator with a nomination to the Legislative Council. He is expected to play a key role if the party gets close to a majority in the election.  Located in Shimoga district, the constituency has 203553 electorates according to the 2017 voters list. Voter turnout in the 2013 assembly election was 64.67% where as it was 64.56% in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. The BJP, the INC and the JD(S) got 23.96%, 28.18% and 15.49% votes respectively in 2013 while 59.14%, 20.92% and 17.62% in 2014 respectively. B. S. Yeddyurappa (BJP) is the present Lok Sabha MP of Shimoga and K.B. Prasannakumar (INC) is the present MLA.


Many consider Janata Dal (S) chief H D Kumaraswamy’s decision to fight the election from two constituencies as an admission of his lack of confidence in ensuring a place in the Assembly. There is reason to believe this as a large segment of voters in the Ramanagara constituency which he represents now are unhappy with his performance as MLA. Moreover, unlike another senior leaders he has tasted several defeats in his political career. His worst ever defeat was in Kanakapura. Where he lost even his deposit in 1998. His campaign managers are trying to overcome the negative factor by projecting him as a would-be chief minister.


Even if he does not make it to the top, many think he can be a king maker if the pre-poll opinion surveys indicating a hung assembly come true. His supporters believe that Kumaraswamy will, therefore, will get an easy walkover in both the constituencies, which are dominated by Vokkaligas, to which he belongs. Located in Ramanagaa district, Vokkaliga votes are crucial to victory in both constituencies. They comprise half of the electorate in the two constituencies. Voter turnout at Channaptanam in the 2013 assembly election was 84.78% where as it was 77.02% in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. The BJP, the INC and the JD(S) got 0.95%, 4.83% and 43.7% votes respectively in 2013 while 10.6%, 50.58% and 33.96% in 2014 respectively. The voter turnout in Ramanagra in the 2013 assembly election was 80.47%/. The BJP, the INC and the JD(S) got 1.19%, 39.04% and 56.12% votes respectively in the last election.


The supporters of Parameshwara, one of the most qualified politicians in Karnataka, had hoped that he would become the chief minister of Karnataka. but a shock defeat at Koratagere in the 2013 polls marred his chances. He has turned no stone unturned to reverse the verdict this time. Though the present equations in the Congress offers no scope for Parameshwara to become the chief minister, he can at least be the number two if the party returns to power. Though the voters at Koratagere had handed out a humiliating defeat to him. Parameshwara did not avenge the punishment. On the contrary he has tried to gain their confidence by undertaking several developmental activities in the constituency.

As the state chief of the Congress, he also strengthened his bond with the grassroots workers and prepared them for the current battle. He has also hired a PR agency to manage his campaign and give him wide publicity in the social media. Parameshwara believe that this will give him dividend and the party will give him a greater role to play in the government if the party gets enough majority to form a government. As a prominent Dalit leader, he is already shouldering a greater responsibility of keeping the Dalit votes intact. Koratagere, a scheduled caste constituency, is located in Tumkur district has 165517 electorate. The Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribe ratios are 23.59 and 10.79 respectively out of total population. Voter turnout in the 2013 assembly election was 83.68% where as it was 76.89% in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. The BJP, the INC and the JD(S) got 2.03%, 35.52% and 47.44% votes respectively in 2013 while 21.33%, 44.5% and 27.95% in 2014 respectively.


Energy Minister D K Shivakumar is considered as the money bag of the Congress party. He is known to keep winning not just for himself but also his colleagues in the party across the state. His critics believe that he has managed this by making use of his money power. They think that Shivakumar will capitalise on the investment when the time comes. Shivakumar, who is the second richest minister in the country, has no pretentions about his ambitions. The 55-year-old leader has already made it clear that his aim is the CM’s gaddi. However, he is not for any friction with the senior leaders. He is ready to bide his time till the seniors complete their turns. Shivakumar is currently focused on ensuring the victory of party candidates in the Vokkaliga dominated constituencies across the state. He commands huge clout in the Vokkaliga belt of old Mysuru region, from where his younger brother DK Suresh is a Lok Sabha member.

If the Congress were to get a majority in the May 12 polls, and if Vokkaliga members get elected in large numbers, it will not be easy for the Congress to ignore his claim for a key position in the government if not the CM's gaddi itself. Kanakapura is located in Ramanagara district. As per the estimates of 2011 census, out of total 256264 population 78.92% are rural and 21.08% are urban population. The Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribe ratios are 19.38 and 2.23 respectively out of total population. As per the voter list of 2017, there are 173607 electorates and 292 polling stations in this constituency. Voter turnout in the 2013 assembly election was 83.48% where as it was 78.51% in 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. The BJP, the INC and the JD(S) got 1.03%, 56.77% and 38.93% votes respectively in 2013 while 7%, 65.3% and 23.03% in 2014 respectively.


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