Will dad’s pleas work for Priyank? - The New Indian Express

Will dad’s pleas work for Priyank?

Published: 04th May 2013 07:55 AM

Last Updated: 04th May 2013 07:55 AM

“You have already punished my son once for no fault of his. I request you not to punish him again for no reason”. The emotional appeal by Union minister Mallikarjun Kharge in Nalwar village of Chittapur constituency recently indicates how desperate he is to ensure the victory of his son, Priyank Kharge, from Chittapur. This election may even be a litmus test for the father-son duo.

Chittapur reserved constituency is likely to see a triangular contest this time. Priyank is contesting on a Congress ticket and faces sitting MLA Valmiki Kamalu Naik of BJP and former minister C Gurunath of KJP. While Valmiki and Gurunath were earlier employees of the Associated Cement Company (ACC) at Wadi, Priyank’s maternal grandparents hailed from Gundagurthi village in Chittapur taluk.

Gurunath won the Assembly elections from Shahbad reserved constituency, which merged with Chittapur constituency in 1994 and Mallikarjun Kharge became labour minister in the Deve Gowda cabinet. Valmiki became MLA of Chittapur in the by-elections held in August 2009 by defeating Priyank by a margin of 1,606 votes.

Mallikarjun who was been elected to the Assembly eight successive times from Gurmitkal and from Chittapur in 2008, took his son’s electoral loss personally. He later resigned as MLA to contest the parliamentary elections.

This time around, he is determined to ensure Priyank’s victory. Kharge visited 70 of the 217 polling booth areas of Chittapur constituency which are said to be critical for Priyank, over the last 10 days. Even on the last day of campaign on Friday, Kharge restricted his visit to villages of Chittapur constituency. He used a helicopter liberally on the last day to meet people in several villages.

Though Gurunath and Valmiki visited villages of the constituency, they have concentrated on votes from the ‘Cement Town’ Wadi and Nalwar village. The duo seem to have fallen out with supporters in other villages.

People of the Kabbaliga community residing in Nalwar village say that though Valmiki belongs to the neighbouring Wadi town, he has done nothing for them after he became MLA. The leaders of the Kabbaliga community will hold a meeting at Nalwar on Saturday and decide whom they to support this time.  On the other hand, it is said that the labourers of Wadi town were unhappy with the senior Kharge as he has done nothing for their welfare. Many feel that though the Congress has a base in villages here, their votes may be split between Gurunath and Valmiki.

People of Gundagurty village feel that it is a matter of pride that the son-in-law of the village has became Union minister and his son is contesting from Chittapur constituency. The villagers have expressed full support for Priyank.

Mallikarjun Kharge expressed confidence that his son will win this time. Kharge is personally supervising the campaign and says that last time, over half a dozen ministers of the BJP camped in Chittapur and distributed money and liquor and encouraged bogus voting in collusion with the district administration. “This time, it will not happen,” he said. Chittapur constituency has,90,381 voters comprising 96,691 male and 93,673 female voters and has a mixed population.

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