BADAMI: Four days from today, as the state votes for a new government, the possible outcome at Badami will rest uneasily in the minds of several top leaders. While Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is seeing Badami as a battle of prestige – which would reassert his stature as the leader of Congress in Karnataka, the opposition has been quick to dub it as Siddaramaiah’s sign of weakness – a decision he supposedly took after beginning to believe his chances of winning at the Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysuru were waning.
Sensing that Siddaramaiah would win easily in a constituency with a large number of Kuruba voters, the BJP was quick to field B Sriramulu, ‘friend’ of disgraced mining baron Janardhan Reddy against him. BJP, by fielding Sriramulu, hopes that apart from its traditional Lingayat voter base, will also capture votes of the Scheduled Tribe community.
JD(S), meanwhile, has fielded Hanamanth Mavinamarad who jumped ship from Congress to join the party. A Panchamsali Lingayat, who despite concerted campaigns by its party leadership in Badami, is considered the underdog, but may still spring a surprise.
Though the victory of any candidate is uncertain, basic caste equations put Siddaramaiah as the front runner. The constituency has 2.14 lakh voters, of which close to 25 per cent of them – around 52,000 – are from the Kuruba community.
With tendencies of rural voters to prefer candidates belonging to their caste, it is likely that most of the Kuruba votes will end up in the Congress kitty. The former MLA from the constituency Bhimappa Chimmanakatti, who was elected five times from the constituency is also a Kuruba. Shankarappa Mucchalgud, a gram panchayat member from Hebballi village, feels that Kurubas will go with Siddaramaiah.
The CM appears to have emulated the campaign strategy of appealing to rural voters as against urban voters in Badami too. While campaigning for a single day in the constituency recently, Siddaramaiah held rallies in villages away from the taluk centre.