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Chikmagalur- A strong BJP bastion with a soft corner for Indira Gandhi

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Chikmagalur has been a BJP bastion since 2000, but the constituency will always have a soft spot for former prime minister, Indira Gandhi. This was the Lok Sabha seat from where she won the by-election in 1978 which gave the Congress party the much needed boost in the post-emergency era.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

In the post emergency general elections of 1977, Indira was routed out of power and thrown out of office. She came to Chikmagalur in 1978 to contest the by-election with the slogan, ' give your little daughter your vote."

She won the election by 70,000 votes by defeating Veerandra Patil of the Janata Party and returned to Parliament.

The campaign was a hectic one and for the Janata Party it was led by George Fernandes. His campaign slogan hit out at her directly by calling her a king cobra which would bite. The Congress however turned it around by saying that the king cobra is worshipped as God in rural Karnataka.

The emergency appeared to have no bearing on the voters of Chikmagalur. She was the hero of the Bangladesh war and fondly known as Indiramma. There was no way that the people were planning to vote against her. The people felt that it was their duty to send back to Parliament and that showed in the end result of the election.

The people of Chikmagalur still have a fond connect with her. Many remember the election and say that they were responsible for reviving her political career. The people feel proud that it was because of Indira that Chikmagalur is in the history books.

While there is a considerable amount of nostalgia around Indira Gandhi in Chikmagalur, the Congress has fallen sharply here. Things started to take a turn in the 1980s with the emergence of Ramakrishna Hegde. He was able to consolidate an anti-Congress vote.

The late 1990s saw a strong emergence of the BJP. The campaign to declare the Bababudangiri shrine as Datta Peeta gained momentum and struck a chord with the voter.

This led to the BJP winning the seat thrice. The BJP continues to hold Chikmagalur. In fact in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Udupi-Chikmagalur seat was bagged by the BJP's Shobha Karandlaje.

The 1951 election was won by the Congress, but the one in 1967, the seat went to the Praja Socialist Party. The elections in 1971, 1977 were bagged by the Congress. Between 1978 and 1984 all the three elections were bagged by the Congress. In 1996, the Congress was defeated by the Janata Dal. From 1998 to 2004 there were three elections and all of them were won by the BJP. In the next elections of 2009 owing to delimitation, the seat went on to be called the Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency. The 2009 elections were won by Sadananda Gowda of the BJP. However in 2012, there was a by-election after Gowda resigned to become the Chief Minister of Karnataka. The election was however won by Jayaprakash Hegde of the Congress. In 2014, the BJP took back the seat.

This time C T Ravi of the BJP which spearheaded the Datta Peeta campaign is seeking a re-election in the assembly segment and appears confident of a win. He says that by opposing the demand to declare the shrine as a Hindu one, the Congress is trying to consolidate the Muslims votes. I will consolidate the non-Muslim votes he says.

Up against Ravi is B L Shankar, a veteran Congressman. He has served both as the Legislative Council chairman and a Lok Sabha member. The JD(S) on the other hand has fielded B H Harish.

Under the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha constituencies, the assemblies constituencies are Kundapura, Udupi, Kapu, Karkal, Sringeri, Mudigere (SC), Chikmagalur, and Tarikere.

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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