Mysore-Kodagu Lok Sabha constituency is likely to witness a direct fight between Congress’ A H Vishwanath and BJP’s Prathap Simha.
While Vishwanath is a seasoned politician and sitting MP, Simha is a journalist. The JD(S) had waited till the eleventh hour before it fielded former Upa Lokayukta Justice Chandrashekaraiah.
For Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the polls in his home turf are likely to be an acid test. Mysore has long been a Congress stronghold, with the party winning every general election, except the ones in 1998 and 2004. On those two occasions, BJP’s C H Vijayashankar triumphed.
Successive governments have largely been development-friendly in Mysore, with many Central institutions and research centres established over the years and road connectivity seeing manifold improvement.
The constituency has also gotten good funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM). In this year’s state budget, Siddaramaiah granted Mysore city `100 crore for heritage conservation.
Vishwanath belongs to the dominant Kuruba community and his party has been claiming credit for introducing the JnNURM, Rajiv Housing Scheme and funds for tourism and higher education. Party workers are hoping that the populist schemes of the Siddaramaiah government will have a positive bearing on the poll result.
But some feel that Vishwanath hasn’t made enough effort to reach out to people and it is Siddaramaiah who has addressed more rallies.
District Congress workers have put up a united show to seek upper caste support and consolidate Ahinda votes in the constituency, which has a high number of Vokkaligas, followed by dalits, Veerashaivas, Kurubas, Muslims, Nayakas, Upparas and Kodavas.
BJP Banks on Modi Effect
Meanwhile, the BJP, which had initially dilly-dallied on its choice of nominee with D V Sadananda Gowda, Shobha Karandlaje and C H Vijayashankar being mentioned as probables, has been playing up the so-called ‘Modi wave.’
Its candidate Prathap Simha hopes voters will be drawn to the party by his youth, energy and vision for Mysore. The saffron party had lost the last general elections to the Congress by a margin of 7,000 votes. This year, BJP hopes the votes of the youth and minority communities will propel it to victory. “We are surprised at the overwhelming response from dalits and smaller communities, who (recently) took out a procession for Simha in Hunsur and Periyapatna villages,” BJP leader Y V Ravishanker said.
Keen to split Vokkaliga votes, the party has also publicised Prathap Simha as ‘Prathap Gowda,’ as Simha’s father’s name is Gopal Gowda. It is targeting more than 60 per cent of Vokkaliga votes and 30 per cent of dalit votes, apart from the traditional BJP voters.
In Kodagu, the party has been slamming Congress over the UPA’s silence on the Kasturirangan report on the Western Ghats and the felling of thousands of trees for laying high-tension electric wires from Kaiga to Kerala via Kodagu.
Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa’s and BSR Congress’ B Sriramulu’s return to the party is likely to increase its vote tally.
The BJP will also be thrilled with the Chalavadi Mahasabha’s anti-Congress campaign in the constituency.
However, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate M B Padmamma may cut into BJP votes as many of the youths who used to side with BJP are now campaigning for AAP.
Jaffer Blow for JD(S)
Disgruntled Congress leader Jaffer Sharief’s refusal to contest for the JD(S) from Mysore was a blow for the party. The party was uncertain on its candidate for long, giving the edge to its rivals.
Moreover, its nominee Justice Chandrashekaraiah doesn’t have a strong record in politics. The party hasn’t been helped by rumours of JD(S) men supporting BJP in Hunsur, Periyapatna and Chamundeshwari taluks.
Despite this, the party has been campaigning hard in N R constituency, with the support of the Socialist Democratic Party of India (SDPI).
JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda has even threatened not to visit Mysore again if his party fails to win.
AAP is seeking votes to root out corruption and bring about change while BSP is eying dalit votes, claiming the Congress had done ‘injustice to dalits.’