Hubli (Karnataka), May 20 : Electioneering in Hubli constituency has peaked for the third and final phase of polling for the 224-seat Karnataka State Assembly.
Hubli-Dharwad Central, the new assembly constituency lies to the north Karnataka after the recent delimitation, and has emerged as the battleground for the upper caste Lingayats.
The third phase of polling will take place on May 22, and this constituency will witness a triangular contest between the Congress, the BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular).
Jagadeesh Shettar, a BJP MLA and a minister till the state came under federal rule last year, is pitted against Shankaranna Manoli of the Congress and Korvi MM (Rajanna) of the JD (S). The Bahujan Samaj Party, which is headed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has fielded Premanath Chikkatumbal in the constituency, which has a sizeable 36,000 Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe votes.
Shettar, who is contesting for a fourth time, said: "Here, there will be no question of caste, I developed my self above the castes. All the caste people, they like me, they are supporting me. You look into all the results of three elections I have gone above the caste. So, all people will vote for me and there will be no question of castes. On the basis of caste they are not voting."
The Congress party, which is trying hard to wrest the seat, has accused the BJP of spreading communal violence.
"The BJP's agenda has always been to spread communal tension here. I am going to the voters with the adage that only the Congress can give a stable government," said Manoli.
Communal tension gripped Hubli city in early 1990s after the flamboyant rightist leader Uma Bharti hoisted the national flag at the Idgah ground.
This constituency has a total of 19 wards and around 181,000 voters, consisting of nearly 70,000 Lingayats, 30,000 Muslims, 36,000 Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes representatives, 14,000 Christians, 12,000 Jains and other communities.
Lingayats and Muslim votes are considered crucial for any one to win this battle of votes.
Counting of votes will take place on May 25. The assembly elections in Karnataka are being considered crucial in the wake of parliamentary elections in 2009. By Mrityunjay SinghANI)