Karnataka elections: Battle of throne between Kumaraswamy, Moily

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Kumaraswamy, Moily
Chikkaballapur, April 1: Carrying the tag of a "migratory bird", former Chief Minister and state JDS chief H D Kumaraswamy has taken a gamble on a new turf ranging himself against Union Minister M Veerappa Moily from Chikkaballapur Lok Sabha constituency, making it a tight race.

Kumaraswamy is seeking to gain hold in a territory where voters from the Vokkaliga community from which he hails number about two lakh out of 16 lakh voters.

Kumaraswamy, son of former Prime Minister and JDS chief H D Deve Gowda had quit as MP of Bangalore Rural after winning from Ramanagaram in the Assembly polls. In the bypoll, his wife Anita Kumaraswamy was humbled by Congress' D K Suresh, brother of his bitter foe minister D K Shivakumar.

JDS has only two MLAs from Chikkaballapur Lok Sabha constituency, where the voters are mainly from OBC, SC and ST.

A heavyweight nonetheless, Kumaraswamy's entry has made the battle tough for Moily, who had comfortably taken on a weak opponent in BJP's C Ashwathanarayana in the 2009 polls. Former Minister Bache Gowda is now the BJP candidate.

Moily also carried the outsider tag in the last elections but pulled off a victory by a margin of nearly 51,000 votes. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal has taken his anti-corruption battle against Moily to his home turf by holding a roadshow and campaigning against him in Chikkaballapur during his recent visit to the state.

During his short run as Chief Minister of Delhi, Kejriwal had ordered filing of an FIR against Moily, former minister Murli Deora and RIL chief Mukesh Ambani for alleged collusion in the hike in prices of natural gas from KG basin. Moily has, however, called Kejriwal "ignorant" and said he did not know how government functions, adding that fixing of price of petroleum products is done as per expert advice.

Sounding pretty confident of repeating his success, Moily told PTI here that the constituency was a traditional bastion of the Congress since 1977, except in 1996.

Indirectly referring to his rival Vokkaliga leaders Gowda and Kumaraswamy, Moily said people in the constituency have not voted on caste basis, which was reflected in his victory in 2009 general elections, though he hailed from the coastal belt of the state.

Arithmetically too, Congress is at an advantage, Moily said, as the party managed to improve the tally of winning four seats in last assembly elections from three.

"One more MLA, an independent, Subba Reddy has joined Congress, giving more strength," he added.

Moily brushed aside the allegations that he pushed for Yettinahole project with an eye on the elections, saying it was approved by three Chief Ministers belonging to BJP regime.

JDS has only two MLAs from Chikkaballapur Lok Sabha constituency

Water is a major issue in the constituency, which has several waterways but they are not perennial. Yettinahole project involves diversion of water from tributaries of Nethravati river in Dakshina Kannada district from Yettinahole of Sakleshpur taluk in Hassan district to the parched Chikkaballapur, a promise that had impacted Moily's electoral fortunes in the last elections.

Gowda, who belongs to Vokkaliga community, is expected to give a big fight for Moily and Kumaraswamy. Gowda was a Minister in the erstwhile BJP government in the state. Kumaraswamy says he stands a good chance of winning as both BJP and Congress were "immersed" in corruption.

Without naming Moily or Gowda, he said both his rivals were on Arvind Kejriwal's list of corruption. Mocking at JDS opponent entering a new turf, Gowda has said " Kumaraswamy is like a crane, the migratory bird that flies from lake to lake. He fled from Bangalore Rural, his political 'janmabhoomi', and come to Chikkaballapur."

Countering this, Kumaraswamy says he was not shying away from contesting from Ramanagar, which he represented earlier and that it was the BJP candidate who was scared to fight against him. Former Bagepalli MLA G V Srirama Reddy is the CPI(M) candidate, whose party has some influence. He had represented Bagepalli Assembly twice and was defeated in the 2013 polls.

Of the eight Assembly constituencies, four are held by Congress (Gauribidanur, Chickballapur, Hoskote and Doddaballapur), two by JD(S) (Devanahalli and Nelamangala) and one each by BJP (Yelahanka) and an Independent (Bagepalli).

PTI

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