Hubballi: At a time when aspirants in BJP are bickering over tickets, party leaders in Dharwad have joined hands to defeat mines and geology minister Vinay Kulkarni who has been at the forefront of protests in support of separate religion status for Lingayats.
The minister would face an uphill task as the BJP has decided to field Amruth Desai, leader of Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, in the constituency which has significant number of voters of this community. Mr Desai, who belongs to Sadar Lingayat sect, had secured more than 35,000 votes based on his personal image though he contested on a JD(S) ticket in 2013 Assembly elections. His defection to BJP has proved a shot in the arm for the party. Mr Tavanappa Ashtagi, who contested as candidate of erstwhile KJP, had secured 21,589 votes, while BJP candidate and former MLA Seema Masuti had recorded 16,896 votes during polls in 2013.
This trio has resolved to work together to defeat Mr Vinay Kulkarni as the votes polled by them add up to 20,000 more than those secured by the minister.
Meanwhile, Opposition leader Jagadish Shettar and Pralhad Joshi, MP, are working on all strategies to defeat the minister. “There is outrage against minister Vinay Kulkarni for trying to divide Veerashaiva-Lingayat community. We aspirants in BJP had earlier decided to work together for the candidate who obtains the party ticket,” Amruth Desai said.
Mr Vinay Kulkarni’s supporters, however, claimed that he would win the Assembly polls in view of overall development of the constituency and Basava Sene raised in several villages.
2013 Assembly result
Vinay Kulkarni 53,453
Amruth Desai (JDS) 35,133
Ashtagi (KJP) 21,589
Seema Masuti (BJP) 16,896
All three rival candidates joined hands to defeat the minister
Amruth Desai has strong influence in Dharwad rural
Veerashaiva-Lingayats play key role in the constituency
The minister is riding high on his development works