BELAGAVI: Mangala Angadi, wife of late Suresh Angadi, former Union Minister of State for Railways, fielded by BJP in the bypoll to the Belagavi Lok Sabha seat on “sympathy factor”, is expected to face a tough contest from a political heavyweight, Satish Jarkiholi of Congress. However, some important rail projects that her husband managed to get for Belagavi as a Union Minister may give her an advantage.
A bastion of Congress traditionally, the Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency turned into a BJP stronghold ever since Angadi won his first election, riding on the popularity of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in 2004, and going on to win four successive LS elections from Belagavi. Mangala, who will not be helped by the tailwind of a Modi wave that seems to have waned over the last two years, has to explore other alternatives to win the poll, political observers said.
MLC Mahantesh Kavatgimath, who was in the race for the BJP ticket and now rallying behind Mangala, said, “Already, Suresh Angadi had completed around two years of his term as MP before he passed away. The party may have considered Mangala to let her continue the remaining term of her husband.”
He said that BJP has a strong worker base across the Lok Sabha segment. All grassroots party workers have delivered effectively in successive elections and it will be no different in this bypoll, he added. Mangala is being backed by all the party leaders, he said.The dominant Lingayat community, to which Mangala belongs, is supporting BJP and she can expect to score high in Bailhongal, Saundatti, Ramdurg and Gokak Assembly constituencies, which have a large population of the community.
Mangala’s candidature on Thursday came as a shock to many party leaders, who had expected the party to pick MP Ramesh Katti or MLC Mahantesh Kavatagimath or advocate M B Zirli, who are popular
and experienced leaders. Some sections in the party had also wanted a fresh face like Dr Girish Sonwalkar or Dr Ravi Patil.