The stakes are high for both the BJP and Congress in the by-election to the Chincholi (SC) Assembly seat, which is scheduled to go to polls on May 19. Considering the fragile majority which the Congress-JD(S) coalition has in the state Assembly and the fact that a couple of its MLAs are contesting the Lok Sabha bypolls, the Congress will be straining every sinew to win the seat. On the other hand, the BJP, which has put up Avinash Jadhav (son of former MLA Umesh Jadhav who resigned to take on veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge in Kalaburagi), sees a golden opportunity to wrest the seat from the Congress and add to its numbers. K.N. Reddy analyses the trends in Chincholi where an upset could have its impact on political equations in the state
Chincholi which borders Telangana, falls under the Bidar Lok Sabha seat and is all set to witness an intense fight between the two national parties similar to the one that took place in the Kalaburagi Lok Sabha seat between veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and the BJP’s Dr Umesh Jadhav. The JD(S), which is the coalition partner of the Congress, has not put up a candidate and has decided to support the Congress candidate in the bypoll.
The constituency was in the media glare recently due to the resignation of sitting MLA Dr Umesh Jadhav from the Congress and his decision to contest as the BJP candidate against veteran leader Mr Kharge. In the past too, the constituency has been in the news—once in 1989 when late Veerendra Patil after his election to the Assembly, went on to become the CM for a second term,
The second time it attracted national attention was in 2001 when the sale of newly born children of the poverty-stricken Lambanis took place in the garb of adoption.
With both parties declaring their candidates, the stage is set for a bitter fight between Dr Avinash Jadhav of the BJP and Subash Rathore of the Congress. Contrary to earlier media reports which said Dr Umesh Jadhav’s brother Ramachandra Jadhav would be fielded as the BJP candidate, his place has been taken by the young Dr Avinash, son of Dr Umesh Jadhav.
Twenty-five year old Dr Avinash is doing his post graduation in Medicine (MD) at a local medical college after having completed his MBBS. Sources said that one of the conditions put forth by Dr Umesh Jadhav for joining the BJP was that the candidate of his choice would be made the BJP candidate for the Chincholi bypoll.
Nearly half a dozen leaders were in the race for the Congress ticket who included Shyam Rathore, Subash Rathore, Baburao Chavan, Babu Honna Naik and Bheemanna Tegalatippi. Subash Rathore, who has an LLM and was previously the Vice-President of Kalaburagi Zilla Panchayat, has pipped the others in the race for the ticket. He is the State President of the Banjara Samiti and had recently joined the Congress after quitting the BJP.
The poll battle has become highly prestigious for both Mr Kharge and Dr Jadhav. While Dr Jadhav wants to prove his hold on the seat by winning it, Kharge and his loyalists want to send out a loud message that Dr Jadhav will meet the fate of leaders like Malikayya Guttedar and Baburao Chinchansur who challenged the leadership of Mr Kharge and had to exit from the party.
The outcome in Chincholi as well as Kundagol could be construed as a vote against the coalition government if BJP candidates win and could also accelerate efforts by the saffron party to install its own government dislodging the coalition from power
In a significant development which would have a big impact on the Chincholi bypoll, leaders of both the Left and Right groups among the Scheduled Castes, on Friday voiced their opposition to the move by both Congress and BJP to choose Lambani leader as their candidates giving short shrift to them in this reserved constituency. These groups have also decided to field a retired judge, Ghodeppa Gokhale as their candidate to take on candidates of the Congress and BJP.
Of the total 1.90,976 voters, Lingayats are the dominant community with over 45,000 voters. They are followed by Kolis with 40,000 votes, Lambanis with over 35,000, Dalits 25,000 (both left and right except Lambanis) and Muslims 20,000.
In the past when the seat was in the general category , it was won largely by Lingayat candidates- late Veerendra Patil four times, Vaijanath Patil two times (1994 and 2004 as Janata Dal candidate), Kailashnath Patil (1999) and Veeraiah Swamy (1985). The only exception was late Devendrappa Ghalappa, belonging to the Kabbaliga community who was a minister in the Devaraj Urs cabinet and won three times in 1972, 1978 and 1983.
After the seat was reserved for SCs, Sunil Valyapure of BJP belonging to the Bhovi community won the seat in 2008. Dr Umesh Jadhav won the seat in 2013 by a margin of 26,060 votes and repeated his performance in 2013 winning by around 23,000 votes.
The Congress strategy is to divide the Lambani votes and get as many as possible but Dr Umesh Jadhav is popular among them due to a slew of developmental measures he initiated such as providing road connectivity to thandas, opening of schools and hospitals etc. The recent induction of former minister Vaijanath Patil, who represented the constituency in 1994 and 2004, into the BJP has come as a shot in the arm for Dr Jadhav. Mr Patil, had led the movement for special status for Hyderabad Karnataka region and is considered pretty influential among all sections of people. The Congress is likely to bank on former legislator Kailashnath Patil, son of late Veerendra Patil, while seeking votes.