Congress, BJP trade charges in Athani ahead of May 22 poll

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Athani, May 21 : Key contestants in Karnataka's Athani constituency are gearing up for the outcome of the May 22 polls, the third in the state.

Each party representative talked to has expressed confidence about doing well at the hustings in this town that lies on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border.

A key issue likely to dominate the minds of the voters is the protection of Kannada-speaking people. Athani also has a powerful sugar lobby and is fighting for the construction of the Hipparagi Barrage, the Karimasuti Lift Irrigation Project and the restarting of the Krishna Sugar Mills.

Sugarcane and turmeric are the lifeline of the people in this politically active town. Here, it will be a three-face contest between the Congress, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Kiran Kumar Patil of the Congress, Lakshman Sangappa Soudi of the BJP and Sadashiva Kedarappa Butale of the Janata Dal-Secular are taking part in the triangular contest.

Talking to ANI, Congress leader Arshad Gadyal who is campaigning for Patil blamed the BJP for the apathy towards development-related issues in Athani.

"The Muslims have consolidated and they will vote for the Congress," said Gadyal.

Sugar baron and Janata Dal-Secular candidate Sadashiva Kedarappa Butale said Thursday's election should be seen as a fight for keeping sugarcane prices affordable and to protect the interests of farmers.

"I am from the sugar lobby. Basically, this election is a fight between the Janata Dal-Secular and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress, for us, is inconsequential," said Butale.

The Muslim community in this town, which has temperatures hovering around or over the 43 degree Celsius mark and is famous for its vegetables and tumeric, is a divided lot. Most believe the vote will go in favour of the Congress. The Hindus on the other hand say that the BJP has done good work, and that there will be a wave in its favour. They say this because most of them are involved with trade and other related activity.

BJP strongman Lakshman Sangappa Soudi is a Lingayat, and he is confident about his party's victory in the polls.

Like any other constituency, Athani is also banking on Lingayat and Muslim votes. y K.G. Vasuki

ANI

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