Shivamogga: Even with KJP being an episode of the past, the 're-united' BJP register may want to make a comeback with a stellar performance across the Shivamogga constituency. But, locally political observers say that despite the unison and party's CM candidate from the region, BJP at its best can win only three of the 7 constituency effortlessly, whereas for the rest it will have to fight it out with the Congress and JDS.
In the so called 'Gateway of Malnad', BJP is known for having a strong network of booth-level workers, if it was not for the internal party feud the party would have won in 2013 assembly polls as well. But in an unceremonious exit, the BJP secured '0' seat in the Shivamogga constituency, when BS Yedurappa formed and contested the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP). The split within BJP, apparently benefited the Congress and the JDS, each party winning three each seats each and one for KJP.
In its plan to reclaim the lost ground at Shivamogga in 2018 , the party has been trying to douse fire from all sides. Subsequently, though constantly at logger-heads, the party even awarded ticket to K.S.Eshwarappa from Shimoga. The leader has won four out of five times from the same constituency, in 2008 he kept his nearest rival at bay with 32,419 votes. "For a party that has a Mission '150 seats' they have to setup winnable candidates. Eshwarappa's nomination despite the media hype is no surprise to the local voters" Das Kumar, a resident says.
Meanwhile, in Shivamogga Rural constituency, the BJP is said to have a firm foothold. Despite the strong Dalit presence in Shimoga rural - a large number of the Scheduled Class members are inclined to the right-wing ideologies, which will add to the party's vote bank.
Since contesting his first assembly polls in 1983, Shikaripura has been largely favourable to B S Yeddyurappa candidature. Of the eight elections he contended from the region, the Lingayat leader has won seven times. Even as a KJP candidate, the people voted him back to power in 2013 polls while ousting BJP.
"Its a common sentiment of the people in the region. If any party assures to give a plum post to their candidate, they are easily swayed away to vote for him/her, irrespective of their party affiliation. Same thing can be said about former Chief Minister S. Bangarappa, he skipped multiple parties and was popularly known as Solillada Saradara (a leader who cannot be defeated). All due credits to his constituents who elected him repeatedly from 1967-94," N Kumar, a district based journalist says.
The challenge for the BJP arises in four constituencies - Sagar, Thirthahalli, Sorab and Bhadravati. Although in previous election, incumbent Revenue Minister Kagodu Thimmappa had claimed that it was his last attempt, it is reliably learnt that Congress leadership is insistent on him contesting from Sagar. In contrast BJP is a divided house over Sagar constituency as former Minister H. Halappa and former MLA from Sagar, Belur Gopalakrishna have laid claim to the ticket. Similar to previous election if Kagodu plays his 'age card' and asks people to vote him, observer feels he has better chances to fare through polls.
At Thirthahalli, it will be a triangular fight between Congress leader Kimmane Ratnakar, BJP leader Araga Jnanendra and R. M. Manjunatha Gowda (who recently shifted his allegiance from BJP to JDS). All three candidates have represented the same constituency and face stiff competition.
While BJP will try to field-in Kumara Bangarappa from Sorab constituency, sitting MLA S. Madhu Bangarappa from JDS wields quite a sound influence in the region. BJP's last-minute effort to moot sibling rivalry under the aegis of polls, is unlikely to yield any benefit to it.
Poll-watchers are confidently panning out any role of party politics in Bhadravati. To put it other-way, its either JD(S) candidate Appaji. M.J or B.K.Sangameshwara from Congress. The duo's war of 'Varchas' (domination) has been going on for nearly 19 years now. Its only either of the candidate who has been winning polls consecutively, BJP is out of the equation - unless one of them decides to switch sides.
Though, in the recent Shivammoga city council election, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has won few seats, analysts feel in legislative assembly it wont matter since the votes of the few minority dominated city wards will dissolve at constituency level during the polls.
By large, Shivamogga constituency will be one of the focal point of the 2018 election as the principal opposition party will setup its CM candidate from this region. Even Congress national President has recently addressed a rally from the district and posed the direct challenge to the opponents. However, except for the two constituency of Sagar and Thirtahalli - where swing-votes might favor either of the parties, rest of the constituency results are anticipated similar to that off 2008 poll results.
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