KALABURAGI: In a strong bid to wrest the Kalaburagi Lok Sabha seat from senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who was elected from the seat in the last two elections and is gearing up for a hattrick in 2019, the BJP is trying hard to poach another powerful backward class leader of the Congress in the district.
After roping in Afzalpur strongman Malikayya Guttedar in the last Assembly election, the BJP is now making efforts to get powerful Kabbaliga leader Baburao Chinchansur into its fold.
Mr Chinchansur, who got elected thrice from Chittapur Assembly constituency and twice from Gurmitkal, lost the recent Assembly election to JD(S) candidate Nagangouda Kandakur. It’s the first time after Mr Kharge got elected in 1972 that the Gurmitkal seat has been won by a non-Congress candidate. Though considered a maverick politician, Mr Chinchansur wields considerable clout over Kabbaligas- the BC community to which he belongs. After the demise of Vittal Heroor, who was a tall leader of the community, in 2003, Mr Chinchansur emerged as its undisputable leader.
The Kabbaligas or Kolis who are predominant in Gurmitkal, Chittapur, Sedam and Afzalpur segments have supported the Congress. Besides Dalits and Muslims, Kabbaligas have been the backbone of support for Kharge senior in Gurmitkal and Kalaburagi Lok Sabha constituency which he represents and also for his son Mr Priyank in Chittapur. Considering Mr Chinchansur’s clout over Kabbaligas, Mr Kharge chose him as his successor in Gurmitkal in 2009 after it became a general constituency. Mr Kharge felt that making Mr Chinchansur his successor would not only help Congress retain Gurmitkal but also help him in Lok Sabha polls and his son in Chittapur.
The schism between Mr Kharge and Mr Chinchansur widened after the latter was dropped from the Cabinet in a major surgery effected by then CM Siddaramaiah in June 2016. He was replaced by Mr Priyank as Yadgir district incharge minister.
Taking umbrage at his unceremonious dropping from the Cabinet, Mr Chinchansur had criticised Mr Kharge alleging that the latter got them removed from Cabinet because he did not want him to overshadow Mr Priyank. Sources close to Mr Chinchansur confided that he is still smarting from the insult and setback he suffered.
“Unlike in earlier elections the BJP is determined this time to wrest the Kalaburagi LS seat as Mr Kharge is the defacto Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and defeating him would be a big blow not only for the Congress but for the opposition. Top BJP leaders in Delhi have given directions to gear up the party for the LS poll by poaching leaders of other parties. So the BJP is making all efforts to widen its base among the OBCs and Dalits by roping in leaders of these groups. Encashing on the humiliation he has suffered, the saffron party wants to accord Mr Chinchansur a red carpet welcome. Discussions have begun with Mr Chinchansur,” sources said....