Around 50 kilometres away from the capital of Karnataka, an all-important constituency is located. It is Ramanagara, also known as the silk city and the place at which the iconic movie, Sholay was shot.
The epicentre of Vokkaliga politics, it is the former chief minister of Karnataka, H D Kumaraswamy who is contesting this seat. Going by what the voters are saying in the constituency, it appears as Kumaraswamy is in with a good chance. The farmers are angry with the current government and feel that Kumaraswamy is their best option.
There are 30 different villages in Ramanagara which had become a district under the chief ministership of H D Kumaraswamy. There is another interesting dimension added to the Kumaraswamy contest this time. He is contesting from the neighbouring Channapatana as well and says that his victory in both constituencies is certain. However, he does not give out much when asked which of the two constituencies he would retain if he wins both.
The silk city is plagued by problems in the cocoon market. The business with an annual turnover of over Rs 600 crore is witnessing an unsteady phase. Those involved in the trade are mostly Vokkaligas and Muslims and hope that Kumaraswamy could solve their problems. They say that he understands their problems and hence he should be given a chance to rule the state.
When one witnesses Kumaraswamy during a campaign trail, it is clear that he is undoubtedly a popular leader in this constituency. He makes very emotional appeals and is all ears when he speaks with the voter. The voters too flock him in large numbers and many of them are aware that this is not just a one-off battle for their candidate, but one to remain relevant in Karnataka politics.
There is a considerable Mulsim population in Ramanagara and for years they have backed the JD(S). The Congress this year has fielded Iqbal Hussain with the hope of dividing the Muslim votes. This may not impact Kumaraswamy's voters. Most Muslims also do not believe that Kumaraswamy would tie up with the BJP in the post-election scenario. Many say that the issues that we face are relating to agriculture and trade and it is only Kumaraswamy who has tried to address that. Religion does not count here, the candidate who would address our problems does.
Although many exit polls say that the JD(S) is not even close to forming a government on its own, the people of Ramanagara feel that Kumaraswamy has a chance. They feel that it is Ramanagara which would propel the JD(S) back into relevance and the party under Kumaraswamy would be a key player in the state.
When voters are asked about his second contest, they say that they are not too perturbed by it. He will retain Ramanagara even if he wins both seats, says Sultan a local trader. He knows the people here have not let him down and this is why he will pick our constituency, he also says.
Kumaraswamy has won this constituency thrice- 2004, 2008 and 2013. His father Deve Gowda too has contested this seat and won it in 1994. Over the years since 1957, the Congress has won this seat 6 times while the JD(S) has bagged it 5 times. In the other elections, the seat has been won by other parties such as the NCO, JNP and once by an independent.
|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|