Pralhad Joshi keen on fifth straight win in Dharwad LS seat, but seer’s shadow looms large

The constituency has so far only sent five people to the Lok Sabha in 17 elections, clearly indicating that the voters have given more than one chance to each contestant.
Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi
Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi(File photo | PTI)

HUBBALLI: No one has ever won from the Dharwad Lok Sabha constituency five times in a row. Now, the question on everyone’s mind is will Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Coal, and Mines, and NDA candidate Pralhad Joshi, buck the record. Though the polls should be a cakewalk for the incumbent MP, the Congress is giving a tough challenge as its fight this time looks organised and it has the indirect backing of Dingaleshwara Swami of Shirahatti Bhavaikya Peetha, who has pulled out of the race.

The composition of the Dharwad constituency (formerly called Dharwad North) changed after delimitation in 2008, but the twin cities of Hubballi and Dharwad continue to remain its core areas. The constituency has so far only sent five people to the Lok Sabha in 17 elections, clearly indicating that the voters have given more than one chance to each contestant.

While three candidates- DK Naikar, Sarojini Mahishi, and Joshi-have been elected four times, the first MP, DP Karmarkar, and Vijay Sankeshwar, have won twice and three times, respectively.

After successfully contesting four times from 1962 to 1977 on a Congress ticket, Mahishi lost in the 1980 ‘Garibi Hatao’ election as she contested on a Janata Party ticket. Mahishi, who was a minister in the Indira Gandhi cabinet, had quit Congress after the Emergency. Contesting the election as a turncoat did not help her and DK Naikar of the Congress taste success.

Thereafter, Naikar also won four times in a row between 1980 and 1991 but failed the fifth time. By the 1996 General Elections, the political climate in the Dharwad segment changed with the emergence of the BJP in the wake of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and the agitation to hoist the National Flag at the then-controversial Idgah Maidan in Hubballi.

The constituency, which had remained a Congress bastion since the first Lok Sabha polls, elected noted transporter Vijay Sankeshwar of the BJP in 1996. Naikar of the Congress was pushed to third place in that election. Naikar once again unsuccessfully contested in the 1998 polls.

Incumbent MP Joshi first won the Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and emerged victorious in the next three hustings (2009, 2014, and 2019). Now, the BJP has fielded him for the fifth time. Joshi has won all four elections consistently with a decent margin against the Congress candidates, and it was just over 2 lakh votes in the 2019 polls against Vinay Kulkarni of the Congress.

It was smooth sailing for Joshi, a Brahmin, ahead of the 2024 polls until Dongaleshwara Swami, an influential Lingayat pontiff, raised his voice against him and accused him of oppressing his community leaders. He even demanded the BJP top brass replace Joshii with a Lingayat. Lingayats are close to 25% of the total voters in the constituency. The party did not budge to his demand. Though the seer withdrew from the contest, the Lingayat issue could haunt Joshi and spoil the chances of his victory.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express