SHIVAMOGGA: After PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the city on May 5, there is a slight shift in sentiment with voters saying “we are voting for the party because of Modiji”. District party leaders are working to make the best of this ‘swing’ of voters. But, residents of Shivamogga assembly are expecting a close race between two front runners K S Eshwarappa of BJP and K B Prasanna Kumar of Congress. JD(S) candidate and district party president H N Niranjana is also a strong contender.
This election is the seventh for Eshwarappa while it is the second elections for Prasanna Kumar. Eshwarappa on BJP ticket won four times -- 1989, 1994, 2004 and 2008 -- and lost in 1999 and 2013. Congress candidate Prasanna Kumar won in 2013 by a whisker of 278 votes defeating KJP candidate S Rudregowda. “2018 will be different,” says Eshwarappa. “All votes that went to then KJP candidate Rudregowda will come to us.”
He says that Hindutva is a major point on their agenda and so is the delay in implementing Smart City project. However, Prasanna Kumar approaches voters citing work done by his government including the development of internal roads, grants sanctioned towards the construction of various Bhavans and community halls, and development of ancient historic temples. To his credit, the sitting MLA attended all the sessions in last five years and raised various issues of the city in the assembly more than 30 times. He says, “Voters decide after looking at work done in the last five years.”
H N Niranjana of JD(S), contesting for a state assembly seat for the first time, has been campaigning relentlessly for the past 10-12 days particularly in slums and smaller settlements. “We are citing Kumaranna’s rule when campaigning for votes. We hope the farming community and working class us this time,” he says. One drawback he faces is that he is not a local because he hails from Davanagere district.
A resident and a farmer Yashwant says that candidates rarely talk about issues instead they focus on personal attacks. Locals do not appreciate this turn the fight has taken.
This constituency is largely made up of Muslims, followed by Brahmins, Scheduled Castes, Veerashaiva Lingayat, Vokkaligas, Tamilians and then Christians. Contestants are engaged in courting smaller groups too, whose votes add up to also 2,000 to 7,000 numbers.Earlier, Brahmin community had supported BJP but this time the Congress has fielded a Brahmin, and loyalties are split.