Want to win polls, ask these tried, tested, trusted candidates of the political parties, who beyond the day to day political dynamics, have remained larger than life figures in their respective constituencies. More than these individuals needing a political backing, it is the parties who end up bee-lining at the doors of these evergreen leaders to add-up to their victory.
Leadership, Personality, Legacy of these leaders have been giving them an upper hand in the game, that has repeated their victory over and over again. Colloquially, the locals simply call it 'Varchas' or the persona and here is an attempt to decode the x-factor that has contributed to the making of leaders.
1) Kukkeri: MLA Umesh Vishwanath Katti, a JDS legislator since 1985 has contested eight-polls altogether and won seven of them. The constituents have remained loyal to this 58-year-old leader, despite him being a party hopper; Janatha Party (1985), Janatha Dal Secular (1989, 1994, 2008), Janatha Dal United (1999) and BJP (2013 till date). Katti faced defeat once - when he was candidate from the Congress in 2004 with a margin of 820 votes to the BJP candidate Shashikant Nayika.
What keeps his victory going? No-nonsense personality, key-player in employment generating sugar sector in the region, Lingayat support, and voicing local aspiration irrespective of his own party ideologies.
2) Kagwad: Bharamgoud Alagoud Kage is the sitting MLA from Kagwad constituency since 2000. The leader first entered the assembly as a JDU candidate in 2000 bypoll and in 2004 was fielded by the BJP as their candidate and has won subsequent polls. In 2017, Kage hogged the media glare after he along with the members of his family allegedly attacked a Congress party worker over a social media post. In the upcoming polls, Kage will be trying for the office for the 5th time on the BJP ticket.
What keeps his victory going? Local goodwill and another key player in sugar industry with deep pockets.
3) Sullia: If anti-incumbency does not act as a spoiler, this will be sixth-straight victory for Sullia constituency MLA S Angara despite, media reports of poor-infrastructure and lagging development in the constituency. In 2013 polls, this was the only surviving bastion for the BJP of the seven constituencies in Dakshina Kannada. Angara clung to his seat with a marginal victory 1,373 votes against Congress candidate B. Raghu.
What keeps his victory going? Besides being a reserved seat, other parties have not been able to position a formidable cadre base. The BJP backed ideology has made a significant progress in the electoral decision of the constituents.
4) Moodabidri: The former Karnataka minister of fisheries Minister Karnataka, K Abhayachandra is the fifth-term aspirant. With the legacy of never having voted BJP to power, this constituency in Dakshina Kannada, has re-elected Abhayachandra - where he has been serving for the last 20 years.
What keeps his victory going? Hailing from the Jain community, the legislator has the backing of the community members who are in substantial number in the region. Moreover, the constituency has been largely Congress inclined.
5) Mangalore: While U.T Fareed has served four-times as a MLA since 1972, 1978, 1999 and 2004, following the death of the former leader, his son UT Khader took over the mantle in 2007. Subsequently, Khader won 2007-bypolls, 2008 and 2013 polls from the same constituency and even holds a Ministerial post in the present state government.
What keeps his victory going? Khader candidly admits that the legacy of his father, social service to the constituents has reposed people's faith in him. Besides, Khader is known to be accessible to the locals and is widely considered responsible for reducing the communal divide in the region.
6) Narasimharaja: Another Congress father to son constituency would be Narasimharaja constituency, where present MLA Tanveer Sait represents since 2002-bypoll. His father Aziz Sait had served the same constituency for over three decades between 1967 to 1999. It was only in 1994, he once lost to E. Maruti Rao Pawar of the BJP. Following the death of his father, Sait sought re-election and continued to uphold family's prided position - opposition in the JDS, SDPI, have tried to defeat Tanveer on several occasions but in vain.
What keeps his victory going? Faith of the people towards the Sait family plays a predominant role, besides the Sait family is credited with a lot of progressive works and reforms.
7) Gandhi Nagar: Born in Kushal Nagar, Dinesh Gundu Rao is the second son of former Chief Minister of Karnataka, R. Gundu Rao. Recently he was appointed as the working president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Commitee (KPCC). Rao will contest the polls for the 5th time. Since 1999, Rao has consecutively won from Gandhi Nagar.
What keeps his victory going? Late CM Gundu Rao's legacy, largely favored by the old-time Congressmen and predominant Congress support base in the constituency.
8)Hubballi-Dharwad Central assembly: Former intervening Chief Minister of the BJP led state government, Jagadish Shettar will seek votes for the sixth-time from the Hubballi-Dharwad Central assembly constituency.
What keeps his victory going? A Lingayat leader with a strong support base, clean image, and soft-spoken are his outstanding features.
9) Bantwal: For Congress, B. Ramanatha Rai has been the face of the party here since he contested in 1985. Rai has a formidable base in the region as he goes to poll for the seventh time. In the last couple of years the region has turned into a communally sensitive zone with murder of members of Hindu and Muslim communities. He faced defeat only once in Bantwal in 2004 by the then BJP candidate Nagaraj Shetty. In 2013 polls, he won with a comfortable margin of over 17,000 votes.
What keeps his victory going? Has a strong hold in maintaining religious solidarity, substantial development in the region and locally well-respected even by opponents.
10) Yadgir: Frequently shifting between his 'Yes and No' and leaving the Congress jittery, Dr. Malakareddy finally aligned with the Congress during the polls. It is said that he was miffed at the party for not giving him a cabinet berth. The octogenarian is going to face polls seventh time. Except for 1985 and 2004, Malakareddy has won polls in 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2008 and 2013.
What keeps his victory going? Strong support by Lingayat and Reddy community.
11) Shikaripura: Similarly, it will be a eighth-stint for BJP's CM candidate B. S Yeddyurappa from his home base of Shikaripura, wherein the leader has won all the polls since 1983 except once when he was beaten by a Congress leader.
What keeps his victory going? The constituency has a large base of the Lingayat voters and despite various allegations levelled against him, voters in the constituency seems to be unaffected. He has developed a strong booth level cadre base.
12) Shimoga: BJP leader Eshawarappa has been elected four times from Shimoga. The strong man from the Kuruba community has enjoyed support of the Brahmin and Lingayat voters region.
What keeps his victory going? Eshwarappa always piggy-backed on Yedyurappa's growing persona, Lingayat leaders in the area have subsequently extended their support to him.
13) Haliyal: This will be the eighth-occasion, when Congress leader RV Deshpande will represent the Haliyal constituency. The leader who first tested the political waters with Janatha Party in 1983, moved to JDS in 1989 and in 1999 he eventually joined the Congress. However, the former Industries Minister and the incumbent Minister of Education, this time faces criticism for the poor development in the region.
What keeps his victory going? Considered a visionary among his peers who pushed for Karnataka's IT hub way-back in 1997- Congress has always held his opinion in high regards. Moreover, born into a Brahmin landlord family at Haliyal, Deshpande also has deep foothold in his constituency.
14) Kundapur: Hailed as the 'Vajpayee' of Udupi', Halady Srinivas Shetty in 2012 was left humiliated after the BJP - summoned him for cabinet swearing in Bengaluru, but at the last minute changed its mind. Dejected, the then three time MLA of the BJP returned to his constituency and put-in his papers. He contested independently in 2013 polls and won with a massive margin of 40,611 votes in the district, while pushing the BJP to third place. In the 2018 polls however, Shetty has reconciled with the BJP leadership and will be contesting on the party ticket.
What keeps his victory going? His simplicity and discipline is his strong point. Halady is known to strike a chord with the rural masses that makes him a local favorite.
15) Kittur: Inamdar has represented Kittur eight times since, twice from Janatha Party in 1983 and 84, Janata Dal in 1989 and later on behest of the Congress. Though the 70-year old leader lost in 2003 and 2008 against BJP’s Suresh Marihal - he came back to power in 2013.
What keeps his victory going? Traditional Congress vote bank, developmental work and Lingayat support.
16) Magadi: Another father to son constituency, Former JDS MLA HC Balakrishna like his father H. G. Channappa does not mind changing party affiliation. While the former legislator Channappa has been with the Congress, the Janatha Party and also with the BJP - incumbent four-time MLA H.C Balakrishna has had a similar stint. He was with the BJP in 1994 and 1999, moved to JDS in 2004, and in 2018 he will join the Congress.
What keeps his victory going? Known to be a reactionary politician, Balakrishna continues to have a firm hold in local mob-politics. He is highly accessible and knows the art of man-management. Hailing from Vokkaliga community, he has a strong hold over the community.
17) T Narasipura: Of the seven times he contested - PWD minister Dr. H C Mahadevappa has won five of the polls despite being a native of neighbouring Nanjangud taluk.
What keeps his victory going? Traditional Congress vote-bank. Besides being close confidante of CM Siddaramaiah and other senior leaders in the party, he has strong grassroots-level connections.
18) Afzalpur: Six time legislator from Afzalpur Malikayya Venkayya Guttedar will contest from BJP ticket in the 2018 polls. Apparently, he was unhappy with the Congress denying ministerial berth to him. However, since first polls in 1985 - the leader has been lucky in whichever party he has contested. After being in the Congress, Karnataka Congress Party and Janatha Dal Secular, he is now with the BJP.
What keeps his victory going? Local critics attribute his winning streak to muscle power and deep pockets owing to his flourishing excise business.
19) Belthangady: The five-time MLA, K Vasantha Bangera has had his political aspirations fulfilled with the BJP, Congress, and JDS. In 2018, he will be contesting for the seventh time.
What keeps his victory going? Though a party hopper, who has served his stint in the BJP, Congress, and the JDS - Bangera's persona has remained intact. The voters in his constituency love him and have always made sure he is way ahead of his nearest competitor.
20) Besides this, Jarikiholi brothers - Satish (INC), Ramesh (INC) and Balachandra (BJP) - will contest from Yemkanmardi, Gokak and Arabhavi respectively.
What keeps their victory going? The brothers hail from a political family, which wields considerable influence in Belagavi district. Satish and Ramesh will be contesting for the fifth-time.
-By Harsha Raj Gatty
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