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Chamarajapet battle: Will a split in Muslim votes consolidate the Hindu voters?

By Vicky Nanjappa
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    For anyone covering the Karnataka assembly elections, the Chamrajapet constituency in Bengaluru has provided for some interesting fodder. Once the domain of the indisputable R V Devraj, it was also once a safe seat for former Karnataka chief minister, S M Krishna.

    Chamarajapet battle: Will a split in Muslim votes consolidate the Hindu voters?

    In the 2004 polls, Krishna did not contest from his home-town of Maddur and moved to Chamarajapet instead where he won with the support of Devraj.

    This year, the fight is bound to be an interesting one. The two leaders to watch out in this gruelling battle would be Zameer Ahmed and Altaf Khan. Zameer quit the JD(S) to join the Congress. Altaf quit the Congress to join the JD(S) and now both would be pitched against each other.

    The key to both these candidates would be the Muslim votes. Zameer had relied on this vote bank to win the constituency twice in 2008 and 2013. The JD(S) is however in no mood to relent. It is visibly upset with Zameer and has issued the war cry to its supporters to punish the 'betrayer.

    In the midst of this hard fought battle, the BJP is looking to capitalise. Rejecting conspiracy theories of being in an understanding the BJP is set to field a strong Hindu candidate. The party which has in the past won this constituency feels that the split in the Muslim votes would end up in the consolidation of the Hindu votes in its favour.

    Both Zameer and Altaf sound very confident. Zameer says that his win is certain as he has the support of the entire constituency. Altaf, on the other hand, feels that the voters would teach his rival a lesson for betraying the JD(S), a party that helped him shoot into prominence. Interestingly, Altaf's wife Seema is still with the Congress and is a corporator.

    The BJP which usually does well in the city is looking to add another constituency to its kitty. It had not put up a good show in several elections in the past from this constituency. But this battle for the Muslim votes and the simultaneous consolidation of the Hindu votes have given the party new hope of taking Chamarajapet.

    Karnataka Assembly Election dates
    Date of notification April 17
    Last date to file nominations April 24
    Last date to withdraw nominations April 27
    Date of polling May 12
    Date of counting May 15

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