Koppal: The Congress and JD(S) have the daunting task of snatching the Koppal constituency this Lok Sabha poll from the BJP, which has won it the last couple of elections.
BJP candidate Karadi Sanganna, a four-term MLA from the Koppal Assembly segment, lost to the Congress in the 2013 Assembly poll, but won from the Koppal LS constituency on a BJP ticket in 2014.
He doesn’t see anti-incumbency as a factor in the constituency and claims he will win by over one lakh votes this election.
“The BJP and Modi wave are sweeping the region. It reminds me of the freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. People would gather in large numbers for a call from Gandhi. Similarly, people are rallying behind Narendra Modi owing to his welfare measures,” he claimed.
On the other hand, Mr Rajashekhar Hitnal of the Congress, who is a Kuruba, the community which plays a decisive role in the constituency, believes anti-incumbency and Kuruba strongman Siddaramaiah’s popularity are his trump cards.
“There is no Modi wave. The BJP’s marketing department is floating this theory. The party has the illusion that this fictitious wave will be converted into votes. But only Bollywood heroes change their clothes as many a times a day as Modi does. Is Modi a celebrity or a hero?” he asked derisively.
On whether it was a battle between Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr Modi in Koppal, he said, “Siddaramaiah is a towering leader in the state. It isn’t wrong to project him for his welfare measures. We seek votes for his schemes unlike the BJP, which is dependent only on Modi, his clothes and menu for breakfast and lunch.”
Most would agree that while the Lingayats are a dominant ‘forward’ community in the constituency the role of backward classes (OBCs) in the region is no less decisive, which makes the battle between Mr Karadi Sanganna, a Lingayat and Mr Hitnal, a Kuruba, an interesting contest. Traditionally a Congress stronghold, the constituency has sent its candidates to Parliament 10 times but of late the party has lost its hold on the constituency to the BJP, which won the 2009 and 2014 polls by fielding members of the ‘forward’ community from it.
In the 2018 Assembly elections, the Congress won in the three Assembly segments of Koppal, Maski and Kushtagi, the JD(S) in Sindhanur and the BJP in Kanakagiri, Gangavati, Sirguppa and Yelburga. Now that the arch rivals enjoy support in four Assembly segments each, the present electoral battle appears to be equally poised....