Ramanagaram, Karnataka, May 8: Former Karnataka Chief Minister Janata Dal(S) Leader H D Kumaraswamy seems to be cruising smoothly in the political waters in this Silk Capital going to the polls in the first phase on May 10. Film Distributor-turned-politician, Mr Kumaraswamy, who is seeking reelection, has distinction of being a first time MLA becoming Chief Minister after being elected in 2004 from this constitutency.
However, Ramanagaram has dubious record of not electing any single candidate for the second time since 1956 elections. Silk rearing is the main occupation of the people of Ramanagaram which contributes more than 60 per cent of the world famous Mysore Silk produced in the State. Though there are 1,78,000 voters, no caste has upper hand as the constitutency has blend of all communities including Vokkaligas, Minorities, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, Lingayaths and other backward communities.
Ramanagaram Assembly Constituency, a mix of both urban and rural voters, had witnessed a windfall in terms of development due to the efforts of Mr Kumaraswamy who became the Chief Minister by enacting a coup of sorts which saw his party 'shelving' Congress and joining hands with the BJP to form coalition government.
Mr Kumaraswamy, who had faced the backlash of people especially from the dominant Lingayath Community for having refused to handover power to the BJP headed by Mr Yeddyurappa in October last year as per the pact entered into before assuming Chief Minister post, is facing one of his worst phases of political career and he has highest stake in seeking re-election from Ramanagaram Assembly Seat.
Ramanagaram town has become a benchmark in terms of development largely due to the efforts of Mr Kumaraswamy, maintains Shakunthala, who runs a furniture shop in the Town. ''The neighbouring Magadi, Kanakapura and Channapatna Assembly seats also got the attention of elected representatives to focus on development,'' she said.
If people choose to vote representatives who have taken efforts for the uplift and development of the constituency from which they got elected, then it should be a 'cake walk' for Kumaraswamy.
Sixtyfive year old Lakshmamma of Bilugumba Village, one of the beneficiaries of old-age pension, expressing her gratitude to Mr Kumaraswamy for enhancing pension from Rs 200 to Rs 400 per month, said that she has vowed to vote for him for the rest of her life. Huchamma, a flower vendor, though appreciated Mr Kumaraswamy for bringing several developmental works to Ramanagaram after he became Chief Minister. However she refused to reveal her choice of candidate saying ''I will decide on the day of poll''.
Mr Kumaraswamy, strongly defending his decision not to handover power to BJP, said that ''BJP leaders attempt to make the 'betrayal issue' as a major election plank has failed''. Had I not taken such a decision the BJP would have painted the entire state with saffron color where people of different community had to live with mutual suspicion and sense of hatredness.'' Denying that the 'so called betrayal factor; still remain in the minds of the voters, Mr Kumaraswamy told UNI that ''I have strong belief that people of Ramanagara, who have seen the all-round development during last three years, would support me in the election'' he said.
Congress, which is sharpening its swords against Mr Kumaraswamy, who was responsible for toppling JD(S)-Congress coalition government and joining hands with BJP, has fielded Ms Mamatha Nichani, daughter of former Karnataka Chief Minister late Ramakrishna Hegde.
Ms Nichani, a political greenhorn was banking only on her late father's popularity, who had got elected from neighbouring Kanakapura assembly segment twice in 1983 and 1985. Two of the hoblis of Kanakapura assembly seat have now been included in Ramanagara assembly seat after delimitation.
Congress also faced protest for favouring Ms Nichani ignoring the local aspirants. However initial resentment died down and party activists were seriously involved for the success of Ms Nichani.
Mr C M Lingappa, a three-time legislator from Ramanagaram Assembly seat had also filed his nomination papers in protest against party's nominee however was relented now and withdrawn his papers and working for the success of Ms Nichani.
Mr Vishakantaiah, Congress Taluk Panchayath member was of the opinion that "if Congress manages to woo its traditional voters and the emerging BJP succeeded in encashing 'betrayal factor' Mr Kumraswamy may cruise into stormy and troubled water". The BJP which had fielded 35-year-old Rudresh a realtor, by profession, seemed to have the backing of voters belonging to Marathas who were up against Mr Kumaraswamy for not keeping his promise and ditching the coalition partner BJP.
There are 175,610 voters in the constitutency including female voters of 86054.
Congress nominee Mamatha Nichani, who is making whirlwind tour of the constituency refused to acknowledge that she is a political novice. "Being daughter of one of the most popular Chief Ministers of Karnataka I have seen closely the nitty gritty of politics and people of Ramanagaram have received my candidature with same love and affection as they had shown to my father earlier" she said.
BJP candidate Mr Rudresh, making all efforts to queer pitch for Mr Kumaraswamy and leaving no stone unturned in his bid to make a debut to Karnataka assembly. Claiming that the twin factors of 'Betrayal from Kumaraswamy and Congress party' s failure in containing prices of essential commodities and lack of commitment in containing terrorism' have made voters to turn to BJP.
While Congress and BJP indulged in extensive campaigning to upset the applecart of JD(S), Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) Chairman and Managing Director Mr Ashok Kheny, who has running feud with Mr Kumaraswamy and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda also visited Ramanagaram several time and supporting Congress candidate Ms Nichani. "Mr Kheny was supporting both Congress and BJP candidates to see the defeat of his arch rival Kumaraswamy and visiting Ramanagaram and making his own efforts to cut down the latter's vote base" Said Mr Honnappa, who runs an electric workwhop in Ramanagaram.
Ramesh Sippy's and India's first 70 mm spectacle mega budget and multi-starrer and all-time hit 'Sholay''s entire outdoor shooting was done in the foothill of Ramanagaram' in 1970, once again hogs limelight this time to see whether Mr Kumaraswamy break the jinx and get elected to Karantaka assembly successively for the second term.
Mr Kengal Hanumanthaiah the architect of modern Karantaka and Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore, who got elected in 1956 and become Chief Minister of the state never re-elected from the same seat successively and history repeated till 2004.
As many as eleven candidates including Mr Kumaraswamy JD(S), Ms Mamatha Nichani (Congress) and Rudresh (BJP) were in the fray. BSP and JD(U) also have fielded their nominees along with Sarvodaya Karnataka party and JD(U) rest from independents who have however failed to make their presence in the contest.
Interestingly there are four candidates with the name of Kumaraswamy including former Chief Minister were in the fray seeking election in Ramanagaram assembly seat.