Yellapur: A new assembly constituency, carved after the delimitation exercise, Yellapur had its first election in 2008. Since then it has been represented by the BJP once and by the Congress twice, following the 2013 and 2018 assembly polls.
Unfortunately for the Congress, however, its Yellapur MLA, Shivaram Hebbar, quit in July along with 16 other Congress and JD(S) legislators to bring down the Kumaraswamy government and is now with the BJP, which has fielded him from the constituency for the December 5 byelection.
Mr Hebbar was in the fray in all three assembly elections the constituency has seen as a Congress candidate and is considered a strong leader in the region. But now that he has quit the Congress to join the saffron party, the political calculations have changed and it is the BJP , which is confident of winning from it because of his familiarity with the people and its own strength.
“In 2018 BJP had won all the seats except Yellapur and Haliyal. Though the party is strong in the constituency, we lost the last election by a small margin of 1,483 votes as Hebbar has always maintained a close bond with the voters. But this time our party's strength and Hebbar's popularity will get us the votes we want," said a BJP leader, adding that although Congress candidate, Bheemanna Naik, was its district unit president, it would be difficult for him to compete with Mr Hebbar.
Although BJP's V S Patil defeated Mr Hebbar in the 2008 election in Yellapur, he grabbed the seat for the Congress by defeating him in the next two elections of 2013 and 2018.
And now the BJP believes he has caste calculations on his side too. It claims the Lingayats will stand by the party in addition to those who have been voting for Mr Hebbar in the past few elections.
Congress leaders, on the other hand, argue that their party will win Yellapur as it has always supported it. "It is true that Hebbar was a familiar leader and helped Congress win in the constituency. But Bhemmana Naik is no novice to elections and has his roots in the constituency. We are sure he will win in Yellapur,” said one Congress leader, asserting that the traditional voters of the party, like the minorities will stand by it. “In addition there is an anti -incumbency wave as people feel this election has been imposed on them. This too will help the Congress,” he insisted.
The party has given former minister, R V Deshpande the responsibility of giving it a winning chance in the constituency and he has been working round -the- clock to chalk out the right strategy. Whether it will pay off will soon be revealed with polling day round the corner....