Belgaum (Karnataka), May 21 : The future of Belgaum has been an emotive issue ever since reorganization of states and candidates exploited it during past elections, but during the present Assembly polls that is hardly being referred to by the candidates.
The contest in Chikkodi, a north Karnataka town in Belgaum district, is not being fought on the basis of ideology but on issues affecting the daily lives of the people.
It is virtually a straight fight between Prakash Hukkeri of the Congress and Ramesh Jigajinigi of the BJP. Four times legislator and three times Member of Parliament (present MP) Ramesh Jigajinigi is pitted against the powerful Lingayat Prakash Hukkeri of the Congress.
Both have nourished the constituency, but the recent delimitation of Assembly seats have brought them face to face.
Talking to ANI, BJP candidate Ramesh Jigajinigi, a sitting MP, said that he was asked by his party to contest this seat since there was no other candidate willing to take on Congress' Prakash Hukkeri. He said that the language problem has been there for the past 60 years, but lately it has almost died down, and claimed that the people cutting across caste or religion lines were supporting him. He said he was confident wining the seat where voting is going to take place tomorrow in the third and final phase.
"The people are with me. It is a foregone conclusion that I have already won," said Jigajinigi.
On the other hand, Congress stalwart Prakash Hukkeri is carrying on with his untiring canvassing to appeal to the voters. Looking confidant of his win, he said he has the Lingayat community backing him, besides the decisive Muslim voters.
Admitting that the language issue has been there for the past six decades, he said that it had been politicized at the cost of development, and could be resolved amicably.
"People as usual are divided. After the delimitation exercise, we still have to develop the constituency," Hukkeri said.
However, the people, in general, are divided here, as they seem both cautious and explicit. For them, it is a personal battle of two political stalwarts, but caste divides them too.
The constituency has over 171,000 voters, including 64,000 Lingayats, 18,000 Muslims, 25,000 Jains, 20 Kurubas and other voters have guarded and waiting for the D-day. By K.G. Vasuki