Gadag, one of the backward districts of North Karnataka and a strong fortress of late veteran Congress leader K H Patil, is all set to witness an interesting battle.
According to local leaders, for the first time in pre-independence era, the Congress was whitewashed in all the four constituencies of the district in 2008 Assembly elections.
Former minister H K Patil, who had contested from Gadag City constituency on a Congress ticket, tasted defeat at the hands of Srishailappa Bidarur of BJP who belongs to Ron taluk.
Patil, who was once an influential Congress leader, had even lost the Legislative Council elections from the Teacher’s constituency to Mohan Limbikai of BJP. The defeats had mellowed Patil.
He told Express ‘overconfidence’ had cost him a lot and “I have overcome those bad dreams and am requesting people to bless me again.”
The BJP’s landslide victory in Gadag district in 2008 Assembly polls was mainly because of B Sriramulu, a mine owner from Bellary district.
And, as the district-in-charge minister, he had conducted several mass marriages and sponsored local cricket tournaments in the district.
However, now it is a totally different picture. There is no fanfare of Sriramulu anymore. He came as a whirlwind and disappeared, say residents.
In fact, Sriramulu is striving hard to find a base for his new party — BSR Congress — in the district.
On the other hand, despite the mercury touching 40 degree Celsius, Patil is visiting each and every house appealing for votes.
Victory is a must for Patil to not only bounce back into the state politics but also to re-establish the Congress supremacy over the district.
Dissidence is brewing in BJP over giving ticket to Bidarur, who attended a mammoth rally held by former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa after he quit BJP. S B Sankannavar, district president of Akhila Bharathiya Veerashaiva Mahasabha, who was a strong contender for BJP ticket, joined KJP after Bidarur was given the BJP ticket.
Most of the local BJP leaders are unhappy over Bidarur’s candidature and are staying away from electioneering.
A patch-up bid by State BJP president Prahlad Joshi with the disgruntled BJP leaders failed. Whatever votes to be taken by Sankannavar are of BJP and that much of voters are minus for Bidarur.
More than anti-incumbency factor, it is anti-Bidarur wave which is seen in the constituency. Anil Mensinkai, in the absence of Pro-Sriramulu wave, is trying to woo the voters.
Water for all
Establishing over 40 drinking water dispensing units across the City by K H Patil Foundation has come in handy for H K Patil to win over the hearts of the electorate.
People thank Patil profusely for supplying potable water at a very nominal rate. This water scheme has been a great hit in the district and there has been demand from the people of other constituencies to set up similar units in their villages.
According to Patil the water scheme was the dream of his father late K H Patil, popularly known as ‘Hulkoti huli’.
Seeing the success of this scheme, the UPA government has earmarked around `1,600 crore to establish the scheme all over the country.
One of the major complaints against Patil is that he is ‘inaccessible’ to the common people unlike his brother D R Patil.
However, H K Patil dismisses such complaints. “Gadag City and Hulkoti Village are like my two eyes; how can I neglect one?” he questioned.
The victory for Congress candidates in the recently held ULB polls has been an added advantage for the Congress to regain its control over the district.