All the three major political parties - Congress, BJP and JD(S) - are trying to woo Marathi voters in the border district to vote for their candidates in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Marathis, who are in larger numbers in Belgaum North, Belgaum South and Belgaum Rural assembly constituencies, can change the outcome of any elections.
Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) MLA (Belgaum South) Sambhajirao Patil had spewed venom against the State government and Kannadigas, at a function recently. His outburst was condemned throughout the State. But the leaders of these parties kept mum on the issue fearing the loss of Marathi vote share here.
In the last two Lok Sabha elections, Marathis voted for BJP. Thus Suresh Angadi was elected from Belgaum. At present, BJP is trying to keep the same old cordial relations with Marathi voters.
However, this time, Congress too is trying to capture Marathi votes with influence of Congress leaders from Maharashtra. The BJP is also bringing the same type of influence from Shiv Sena and BJP leaders from Maharashtra.
However, JD(S) is far away from this rat race.
Congress is planning to make MES field its candidate in the upcoming election to see it that BJP loses a majority of Marathi votes.
Sources close to Congress told Express that the party has spoken to Sambhajirao Patil and he may contest in the election.
If Patil gets around 60,000-70,000 votes, it will become very difficult for BJP to retain its seat.
When Express contacted Patil, he said Marathis are exerting pressure on him to contest the election so that he can put forth their grievances in the Parliament. However, he said he has not yet decided about contesting the elections.
The Belgaum parliament constituency has 14 lakh voters. Among the, 1.80 lakh to 2 lakh voters are Marathis.