Mysuru: Though Mysuru and Kodagu districts are geographically unique and vary culturally and traditionally, the twin districts are looking for much deserved attention for conservation- of the precious heritage of Mysuru and the green belt of Kodagu, as they gear up to face the Lok Sabha elections.
Both being major tourist hubs, people of the two districts are also looking for better development of their tourism destinations and for promotion of tourism in the region. Mysuru is also looking for good investors for its industrial growth, and development of satellite towns with all amenities in the periphery of the city to divert the increasing population and conserve its heritage features in the core city area.
Chamarajnagar Lok Sabha constituency was part of Mysuru constituency upto 1962. It was during the delimitation process in 2007 that Madikeri and Virajpet legislative assembly segments which were earlier with Mangaluru Lok Sabha constituency, were added to Mysuru which had to part with HD Kote assembly constituency. This was added to
Chamarajnagar Lok Sabha constituency while KR Nagar assembly constituency was added to Mandya.
The Congress has a strong base in Mysuru Lok Sabha constituency, and of the13 Lok Sabha elections held so far, Congress candidates have made it 10 times, and BJP candidates thrice. And ironically, it was the present Congress candidate for Mysuru-Kodagu constituency Mr C.H. Vijayshankar who established a base for the BJP with his victory as the BJP candidate in the 1998 and 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
The present BJP candidate, journalist turned politician Mr Pratap Simha made it as a newbie in his very first attempt in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Among eight assembly segments in Mysuru Kodagu constituency, currently Chamaraja and Krishnaraja assembly constituencies in Mysuru district and Virajpet and Madikeri assembly constituencies in Kodagu district are represented by BJP MLAs, Chamundeswari, Periyapatna and Hunsur constituencies are represented by JD (S) MLAs, and it is only the Narasimharaja assembly constituency which is represented by a Congress MLA.
Mysuru being the home town of former chief minister and Congress-JD(S) co ordination committee head Mr Siddaramaiah, he succeeded in retaining Mysuru -Kodagu constituency for his party to retain his hold in the region after he lost the assembly election in Chamundeswari constituency.
With Congress and JD (S) members being traditional rivals in the old Mysuru region, bitter differences which cropped up during the Chamundeswari assembly elections between Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr G.T. Deve Gowda who won the poll, continue as ever. With several Congress leaders backing independent candidate Ms Sumalatha Ambareesh in Mandya and Congress workers not doing enough to support JD(S) candidate in Tumakuru Mr H .D. Deve Gowda (after sitting Congress MP Mr Muddahanumegowda was not given the ticket) JD (S) workers in Mysuru district too are yet to be fully convinced to back the Congress candidate Vijayshankar.
Vokkaligas dominate in the constituency-the community Pratap Simha belongs to followed by the dalits (Right and Left). Mr Simha also enjoys good support among the Veerashaivas, Brahmins, Kodavas, Nayaks and Uppars in Periyapatna besides the Vishwakarma community. Mr Vijayshankar enjoys good support among the Kuruba community since he is a Kuruba leader like Mr Siddaramaiah and also wields influence among the minorities.
As per the 2011 census, there are also 7831 tribal voters belonging to Jenu Kuruba, Soliga, Yarava, Hakki Pikki, Kaadu Kuruba and Dongri Geraasiya communities in the constituency. In the previous Lok Sabha elections, since Mr A.H. Vishwanath who contested as the Congress candidate kept targeting Mr H.D. Deve Gowda, Vokkaligas dumped the JD(S) and voted for Pratap Simha. But this time both two term Mysuru Kodagu MP Vijayshankar and present MP Pratap Simha seem to be relying on the image they enjoy in the constituency rather than bank on the community factor alone. A significant factor one observes in the constituency is that youth of all communities are swayed by the Modi wave and are pro Narendra Modi.
One big issue in Mysuru is the conservation of heritage buildings. The 201 heritage buildings including Mysuru Palace are yet to be declared heritage structures even after the heritage experts committee sent a list to the state government in 2007. Another issue pertains to crops with no measures taken to increase the declining area of GIS crops be it the Mysore jasmine or Mysore betel leaf or even the Nanjangud rasbale.
Mysuru is the second largest city in Karnataka after Bengaluru but is yet to draw much deserved attention as far as investments are concerned, and has only 20,000 industries with over 2 lakh employees. Among 18,95,053 voters in the constituency, 28,305 (in all assembly constituencies except Madikeri and Virajpet) are first time voters who have completed 18 years of age this time. As for Kodagu district, known as the Switzerland of South, it went through a disastrous phase last year due to massive floods and landslides with over 7594 people rescued and temporarily housed in 51 relief centres in Kodagu and 840 people losing their homes. People are happy with the response of both the central and state governments during the crisis but are looking for conservation of its green belt and better solutions to protect them from floods during rains and also man-animal conflicts.
Both Mysuru and Kodagu are major tourism destinations, with at least 30 percent of people depending on tourism in Mysuru; and over 1 lakh people in Kodagu. A lot needs to be done to improve facilities and add attractions in existing tourism destinations and besides promoting them.
The project for railway line doubling between Mysuru and Bengaluru which commenced in 2005 during the the tenure of BJP MP Mr C H Vijayshankar concluded in 2018 during BJP MP Mr Pratap Simha's period but it is claimed that it was Mr Mallikarjun Kharge who got clearance from the department of heritage, archaeology and museums and Archaeological Survey of India when he was the railway minister in 2014 and began the shifting of the 228 year old historic Tipu armoury at Srirangpatna which fell within the alignment of the second railway line. Alsoh Mysuru Airport was upgraded at a cost of Rs 82 crores by Airport Authority of India in 2009 and was inaugurated in 2010 when Mr A.H. Vishwanath was the Congress MP.
After several hiccups, under the Udaan regional connectivity scheme, air connectivity took off and there have been regular flights from Mysuru to Chennai airport since 2017. The Union ministry for civil aviation has recently approved six more flights to connect Mysuru airport to five more prominent cities of the country, under Udaan regional connectivity scheme
Congressmen claim it was Siddaramaiah as the MLA of Chamundeswari constituency, who played a vital role for establishment of the airport.
Work on the ten lane road between Mysuru and Bengaluru has begun recently with the Union government giving approval for a satellite railway terminal at Naganahalli near Mysuru to accommodate additional trains to Mysuru and decrease the pressure on existing Mysuru railway station. The railway ministry has approved Rs 1854.62 Crore for an 87km long railway project to connect Mysuru and Kushalnagar too.
Sitting BJP MP Pratap Simha is seeking votes on the basis of these works especially the improvement of air, rail and road connectivity to Mysuru. But there are popular programmes lauched by Mr Siddaramaiah and CM H.D. Kumaraswamy like the waiving of farm loans too which has resulted in a tough fight between the Congress and BJP in the prestigious constituency.
Going by the numbers Congress and JD(S) candidates got fighting against each other in previous polls, the coalition candidate Vijayshankar should have an edge. But considering the strained ties between the coalition partners and the Modi wave so visible in the constituency, Simha must be pretty confident of another win this time unmindful of the tough challenge Vijayshankar poses....