Hubballi: With North Karnataka seeing a Modi wave, the Congress is banking heavily on Muslims, Kurubas and backward castes in Haveri constituency. While there are six lakh Lingayat voters here, Muslims, Kurubas and backward castes are the deciding factor as they together make up 70 per cent of its population.
Party candidate D.R. Patil who is related to Congress campaign committee chairman, H K Patil, is, however, having a hard time winning over the Muslim voters as he beat Mr Saleem Ahmed from the community in the race for the ticket when Muslims have represented the constituency in 10 of the last 15 Lok Sabha elections.
The Congress is more confident of the Kuruba vote as former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah belongs to the community. “Kurubas are identified with the Congress as our leader Siddaramaiah belongs to the community. The BCs will not desert the party either as they have faith in Congress leaders of the community, including Dy CM G. Parameshwar,” says Congress leader I.G. Sanadi.
Although he claims Mr Patil will attract the Lingayat voters too as he belongs to the community and has a clean image, BJP candidate Shivakumar Udasi is a Lingayat and has the Modi wave going for him.
The other discouraging factor for Mr Patil is that only two MLAs of the eight in the constituency belong to the Congress, giving the BJP the advantage as it has five legislators and support of independent MLA, R Shankar, who was dropped from the Cabinet. But not everything is going the BJP's way either as its former MLA Shrishailappa Bidaruru is all set to join Congress. Mr Bidaruru, who has represented Ron and Gadag in the assembly, has considerable support in the constituency which could help the Congress. The party is also counting on Mr H.K. Patil's influence in Gadag coming to its aid.