Former bureaucrat to take on heavyweight in Raichur Lok Sabha constituency

Kumar Naik is a 1990-batch Karnataka cadre IAS officer who served in Raichur as deputy commissioner between 1999 and 2002.
Congress' Kumar Naik , Sitting MP and BJP's candidate Raja Amareshwara Naik
Congress' Kumar Naik , Sitting MP and BJP's candidate Raja Amareshwara Naik

RAICHUR: It will be a keen contest between a former bureaucrat and a sitting MP in Raichur Lok Sabha constituency (ST Reserve). And with women outnumbering men in this seat in Kalyan Karnataka, it will also be a contest between the Congress’ five guarantees and the BJP’s development narrative.

Though there are eight candidates in the fray for the elections to be held on May 7, it will be a direct fight between former IAS officer Kumar Naik of the Congress and MP Raja Amareshwara Naik of the BJP.

Kumar Naik is a 1990-batch Karnataka cadre IAS officer who served in Raichur as deputy commissioner between 1999 and 2002. He is the only former IAS officer contesting this Lok Sabha polls in the state. The Congress seems to be banking on his work as DC to woo voters and has chosen him over Ravi Patil who was a strong contender for the ticket.

According to Congress sources, Kumar Naik’s work as DC, particularly his handling of the drought situation, rejuvenating the city’s old tanks and implementing development projects effectively seemed to have gone in his favour. Apart from Kumar Naik’s work, the five guarantees implemented by the Congress government will help in getting a good response in the elections, said party sources.

The Congress’ support for the Raichur Horata Samiti’s year-long agitation seeking the setting up of an AIIMS in Raichur will help its candidate.

BJP candidate Amareshwara Naik is a two-time MLA and has served as a minister in Karnataka. He claims that development works are being implemented in a speedy and effective way as the Union government has chosen Raichur district under the aspirational districts category by the NITI Aayog. Malnutrition has considerably come down in the last two years, the BJP claims.

Initially, it was thought that Amareshwara Naik will face some problems as former MP BV Naik had threatened to enter the fray as a rebel candidate if he was denied the ticket. However, he was pacified by BJP leaders and he is now working for Amareshwara Naik.

From 1971 to 2019, the constituency has seen 13 Lok Sabha elections. The constituency has sent Congress candidates 10 times to the Lok Sabha, BJP candidates two times and JDS candidate once (Raja Rangappa Naik in 1996). A Venkatesh Naik represented the constituency for the highest of four terms while BJP candidate BV Desai represented the constituency twice.

The constituency comprises eight assembly segments, including Shorapur, Shahapur, Yadgir (of Yadgir district), Raichur (rural), Raichur, Manvi, Devadurga and Lingsugur (of Raichur district), and has a voter population of 20,10,103, including 10,15,158 women, 9,94,646 men and 299 others.

Except for Shorapur Assembly constituency, all the remaining constituencies have more women voters compared to men. Shorapur constituency also has the highest of 2,83,083 voters while Raichur rural has the least (2, 36,229).

Though there are two thermal power stations, Raichur district reels under power cuts. Despite having the famous Hutti Gold Mines, which produce hundreds of tonnes of the yellow metal, the district has not seen any glitter of development. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land in the district are irrigated by the Tungabhadra and Krishna projects, and malnutrition in the district is high.

Ground water has been exploited so much that thousands of hectares of land have become saline. Siltation has reduced the capacity of the Tungabhadra reservoir by 30%. Dozens of small towns and villages face acute shortage of drinking water.

The list of problems in Raichur parliamentary constituency (ST) is long, but none of them are on the political agenda as elections are to be held barely seven days from now, people complain.

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