Ballari: Like the Scheduled Tribe (ST) reserved Ballari Lok Sabha constituency, neighbouring Chitradurga, reserved for the SCs, is witnessing a battle between two 'outsiders'. The ‘outsider’ tag is not an issue for the two major political parties-Congress and BJP in this parched constituency. In fact, Congress candidate and sitting MP Mr B.N. Chandrappa, who is seeking re-election, makes no bones about not being a native.
Chandrappa started his political career in Chikkamagaluru and won from Chitradurga in 2014 defeating the BJP candidate despite the 'Modi wave'. Even the BJP, which is hoping to wrest the segment this time , has chosen former minister Mr A Nara yanaswamy, who is from Anekal in Bengaluru Urban district.
Chitradurga, a reserved constituency, has a history of electing candidates who are rank outsiders. A Congress bastion —the party has won 12 of the 16 LS polls but it is now witnessing a spirited challenge from BJP which managed to win five of the eight assembly segments in the 2018 state elections.
Having shifted its Ballari strongman Mr B Sreeramulu, a prominent ST leader, to Chitradurga, the BJP is looking to consolidate its position. How-ever, the one-lakh strong Bhovi community is unhappy with the BJP as it failed to keep the promise of picking a candidate from the community. At a meeting of Bhovi community leaders held under the leadership of Immadi Siddara-meshwar Swami of Bhovi Gurupeet on Sunday, it was decided that the community would support the party that clarifies its stand on the Sadashiva Commission report.
Immadi Sidda-rameshwar Swami said the Bhovi community had initially decided to opt for NOTA because of the “negligent attitude” of the BJP in not issuing the ticket to a candidate from the community, despite repeated appeals. “After discussions and after collecting the opinion of people from the community, the leaders have decided not to opt for NOTA and instead vote in favour of the party that clarifies its stand on the report,” he said.
The two main contenders—Chandrappa and Narayana swamy —both belong to SC (Left sect) and they are in a majority among the SCs in the region.
There are 3 lakh Dalit voters and 3 lakh STs, followed by 2.5 lakh Lingayats. There are also 1.3 lakh Muslim voters, while Vokkaligas and Kurubas each have 1.2 lakh votes. There are three lakh OBC voters, including Yadavas and Golla in the constituency.
“There is no Modi wave in Chitradurga but there is a Sidda-ramaiah wave,” says Mr Chand rappa. Former CM Siddaramaiah was part of the road show when Chandrappa filed his nomination.
“I am known for my work here. There is also complete co-ordination between the JD(S) and Congress,” he says. Chandrappa’s assertion that the pact with JD(S) will increase his vote share stems from the votes polled during the 2018 assembly polls. Among the eight assembly segments in Chitradurga and Tum akuru districts which are part of the Chitradurga segment, JD(S) won in one (Sira) while its candidates finished second against the BJP in two segments—Challakere and Chitra durga. In the 2014 LS polls, the Cong ress bagged 42.99% of the votes, BJP got 33.67% and JD(S) 18.58%. However BJP candidate Naraya-naswamy, 54, asserts that the Modi wave and anti-incumbency will help him garner votes, along with the support of Molakalmur MLA B Sreeramulu. But there are growing complaints that Sree-ramulu is not accessible. His one-time associate Mr S Thippeswamy, a former MLA from Molkalmuru, has even joined the Congress....