Shikaripura (Karnataka) May 13: It is going to be a clash of Titans in this town as two poll veterans S Bangarappa and B S Yeddyurappa are locked in horn in the Karnataka Assembly elections scheduled to be held in the second phase on May 16.
Both the former Chief Ministers are leaving no stone unturned to win the seat and mostly using the meeting of small gatherings in villages braving the scorching heat. Though Yeddyurappa has become a popular figure in the constituency, the battle-scarred veteran Bangarappa, with his charishmatic stature, is also striving to defeat Yeddyurappa through his well established strategies.
Bangarappa's entry into the fray has undoubtedly caused jitters to BJP Chief Ministerial candidate Yeddyurappa, who, otherwise, would have won the seat unmindful of his political opponents. The support by Congress to Bangarappa has worried Yeddyurappa a little bit as the Congress too enjoy a good number of committed voters like Bangarappa. The only plus point for Yeddyurappa is various developmental works cleared by him during his tenure as the Deputy Chief Minister and it should help him now. But the villagers also remember with gratitude the timely help rendered by Bangarappa when he had distributed rice to them following severe drought a few years ago. Though Bangarappa hails from a nearby Soraba Taluk it was Shikaripura which had given him the big lead during the election to Lok Sabha.
The support by Congress and Janata Dal(Secular) to Bangarappa should serve as a morale booster and that he should win comfortably since he has his own vote banks, said Ningavva. But she could not elaborate further on Bangarappa changing parties frequently and said it was upto him to choose whichever party he liked. But we support him because he has helped us all along, she remarked.
The constituency has 1.61 lakh electorate comprising 56 communities. Major chunk of votes belong to Lingayat community to which Yeddyurappa belonged to. SC and ST voters are 35000 in number followed by Muslims 15000 and Kurubas 12,000. Idigas, to which Bangarappa belonged to, comprised 6,000 votes with Devanga community having as many number of votes. Other communities, in all, have 32,000 votes.
This would be the sixth time for Yeddyurappa in the Assembly elections. He made his entry into the Assembly in 1983 and had won the elections in 1985, 1989 and 1994. He was defeated by Congress nominee S Mahalingappa in 1999 and again won in 2004 elections.
For Bangarappa, though this is a first attempt from Shikaripura, he had won the Assembly seat from Soraba from 1967 to 1996 and four times he had won the Lok Sabha seat.
The battle lines are clearly drawn and it remains to be seen whether the charishmatic influence prevail upon during the election over achievements of Yeddyurappa.
The stake involved are high for both the leaders as victory of either of them would give a new turn to political scenario in the state. Keeping this in view, Yeddyurappa seeks the blessings of the voters saying that they would be voting for a Chief Minister, if the Bharatiya Janata Party returned to power. If Bangarappa wins, then it would also give to new political equation at the national level between the Congress and Samajwadi Party.
A beaming Yeddyurappa, during his campaign trail at Hotanakatte village, talking to UNI exuded confidence about his winning. " I am going to win this election comfortably and Bangarappa as the Chief Minister had not done anything to this constituency," was all he could say. But Bangarappa feels it is a fight between secular and communal forces and finally secular forces would prevail. BJP has chalked out its poll campaign systematically in the form of 18 teams of committed leaders who visit remotest villages daily to woo the voters.
The fight between the two leaders has resulted in divided opinion among some villages within the families. While Thimmappa, a farmers, contended that it was Congress which had given him the land following land reforms Act and that he was committed to vote for the party, his son Devaraj counter argued there was no need for Bangarappa, who has changed parties quite often, to contest against the BJP leader. Thimmappa thinks that Bangarappa was the official nominee of the Congress and that he would vote for the 'hand' symbol.