BELAGAVI: Despite the support which the Congress and BJP are getting from different dominant communities in North Karnataka districts, both the parties continue to promote only the influential Lingayat leaders in four important local bodies constituencies in the region.
Most of the sitting MLCs from the local bodies constituencies of Belagavi/Chikkodi, Hubli-Dharwad-Gadag-Haveri, Vijayapura-Bagalkot and Kalaburgi and Yadgir are Lingayats hailing from influential families. And most of those contesting against the sitting MLCs also are Lingayats.
Several aspirants for Congress and BJP tickets from many other communities have been ignored in all the four major constituencies of North Karnataka by both the parties.
Many noted politicians say the Lingayat community may have been a major community in North Karnataka but the BJP and Congress are being supported strongly by many other communities as well all across the region.
In the dual-seat Vijayapura-Bagalkot constituency, the Congress party rallies behind the family of senior leader M B Patil. His brother Sunilgowda Patil and S R Patil from Bagalkot (both Lingayats) are the sitting MLCs, and the party is certain to field Sunilgowda this time too. The BJP is keen to field one among G S Nyamgouda, Prakash Tapshetti or P H Pujar who all are Lingayats, from Vijayapura-Bagalkot.
The Congress party ignored many top leaders including five-time legislator Veerkumar Patil (Jain) to field 36-year-old Channaraj Hattiholi, brother of MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar (Lingayat) as Congress candidate from dual-seat Belagavi constituency, where BJP's Mahantesh Kavatagimath, a noted Lingayat leader is the sitting MLC and also the party's candidate for December 10 election. Another sitting MLC from Belagavi is Vivekrao Patil (non-Lingayat), who is an Independent candidate
Pradeep Shettar, brother of Jagadish Shettar is the sitting MLC from Hubli-Dharwad-Haveri-Gadag local bodies constituency and is set to contest again from BJP. A Lingayat, Sharanappa Kotagi is favourite to get Congress ticket even as candidates from minority communities are also aspiring for a ticket. It remains to be seen whether Congress will field a Lingayat or opt for others here.
In Kalaburgi-Yadgir constituency, BJP's B G Patil, Lingayat by caste is the sitting MLC who is ready to defend his seat again while the Congress party is keen to field Hanumant Bhusnur against the BJP.
Raising serious objections to the way political parties are rallying behind one community, a top leader from Congress said, "33 percent of members in all local bodies including GPs, TPs and ZPs who are the voters in local bodies elections are from SC/ST communities in the state. Unfortunately, the candidates from these communities did not get the party tickets at the expected level to contest in the forthcoming elections from the local bodies constituencies. Similarly, the share of votes of many other communities is considerable in all the constituencies but their candidates continued to be ignored in the elections.''