CHIKKABALLAPUR: Amid a high-voltage contest in Chikkaballapur assembly segment, a three-way fight is on the cards. Top BJP top leaders are keen to ensure the re-election of its candidate K Sudhakar, who, along with other disqualified legislators, had propagated the fall of the previous coalition government. The saffron party is also keen on opening its account in the district.
The Congress and JDS have fielded Vokkaliga leaders as their candidates, and are going all out to ensure Sudhakar isn’t re-elected for a third consecutive term. Sources said former Agricultural Minister and senior Congress leader Shiva Shankar Reddy is looking at the bypolls as a challenge to defeat Sudhakar, who has often targeted him. Reddy had played a key role in the selection of M Anjinappa as the Congress candidate, and had assured the party’s state leadership that the seat will remain with them.
Both Sudhakar and Anjinappa are from Chikkaballapur, with JDS candidate Radhakrishna hailing from neighbouring Siddlaghatta. Since all three candidates are from the important Vokkaliga community, votes will be divided. Apart from Vokkaligas, SCs, Balija Naidu, Kurubas, Muslims and OBCs are in good numbers here. Congress leader DK Shivakumar is eyeing the Vokkaliga votes, while former CM Siddramaiah can influence voters from the Kuruba and other communities.
To counter Congress’ strategy, Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayana, who is also from the Vokkaliga community, and MP P C Mohan from the Balija Naidu community, are said to be working closely with BJP leaders in the segment. The JDS candidate is banking on former CM H D Kumaraswamy’s considerable influence in the district.
Sudhakar, who had won on a Congress ticket, had resigned, accusing the coalition government of neglecting the constituency. Now, Sudhakar is wooing Congress and JDS local workers, since the BJP does not have much of a hold here. Also, after Sudhakar left the Congress, the BJP government had sanctioned a government medical college in the district, separate taluk status for Manchenahalli and several other development works, which he is using as leverage. However, Congress and JDS leaders, who are accusing Sudhakar of betraying the Congress, say voters are angry with him.
In this three-way contest, Vokkaliga votes will be a deciding factor, but now, with a division of community votes, this segment is likely to see a close match between candidates from all three major parties.