BADAMI:As the countdown for filing nomination papers from Bagalkot’s Badami has started for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, political campaigning is gaining momentum in Mumbai - Karnataka region.
Confusion over his candidature has come to an end, and political parties are in a tizzy. Caste equations have come to the fore and a few in the Congress circle believe that his entry would consolidate Kuruba votes, other than the Ahinda votes, in favour of the party candidates in about 25 to 35 constituencies.
Irrigation Minister M B Patil says that the chief minister’s decision will give an edge to Congress candidates locked in a keen contest in various constituencies, and who may have otherwise lost by a narrow margin.
His candidature has already shaken things up in many constituencies in Bijapura, Bagalkot and Belagavi districts, where Congress members had turned complacent after party president Rahul Gandhi’s visit.
Local party people claim that there was a possibility of infighting otherwise -- with differences within the party rank and file, between supporters of sitting MLA B B Chimmankatti and those of Congress ticket aspirant Devaraj Patil.
While in public many maintain that Siddaramaiah’s Badami ticket will help the party’s prospects, privately many express an anger for having to ‘sacrifice’ the constituency to him.
'CM should not quit once elected'
Sources say that infighting will come to the fore during campaigning, in the absence of Siddaramaiah in Badami. The worst would be if Siddaramaiah resigns, giving way for by polls.
Congress worker Harisha wants Siddaramaiah to promise that he will not resign if he wins from both Chamundeshwari in Mysuru and Badami. “Otherwise it would be a huge let-down to party workers who have sweated to ensure his empathetic victory,” he says.
“We are happy that Siddaramaiah is coming to Badami. We hope that he will bring development here and address many core issues in north Karnataka region,” says voter Asham Peer.
While, roadside vendor Tulsiavva says that he has her vote for giving rice at subsidised rates under `Anna Baghya'. “I would have considered other candidates, if he had not been around,” she says.
Caste comes to centre stage: The JD(S) has found their candidate in Hanumanth Mavina Marad, from a dominant Panchamashali community. He has started consolidating his community members and is playing up Congress’ “divisive politics in the Veerashaiva - Lingayat issue”.
The BJP that is yet to announce its candidates has floated names of industrialist Vijay Sankeshwara and MP Sriramulu among others, so that they can gather Nayaka and a lion’s share of Veerashaiva voters.
The Congress leaders are not worried about Veershaiva votes getting divided, saying that he will win with Kuruba, SC and Muslim votes. Caste calculations are very much on BJP’s mind too, with the party playing its card close to its chest.
Meanwhile, sources in BJP and JD(S) say that they want to pin Siddaramaiah in Chamundeeshwari and Badami, without leaving him time to campaign across the state.
Will he be accessible?: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has to overcome the anti-incumbency wave, with the sitting MLA Chimmanakatti being blamed for underdevelopment, badly managed drought and snail pace of civic work. There is also his ‘outsider’ tag, unlike in Chamundeswari.
“Voters also believe that it would be difficult to reach out to Siddaramaiah sitting in Bengaluru or Sriramulu in Bellary,” says Vadvath H Kulkarni. He says that many working with rival parties may rethink and support Siddaramaiah, if he assures them that he would be accessible.
Ramu Gowda, along with fellow villagers, are worried that without a local leader, their problems will remain unattended.
“We need to learn more about this, and let him know about lack of water for irrigation in drought-hit areas as majority of borewells have dried up in villages. However, we are hopeful that his entry may change the fortunes of people,” says Arun Reddy.