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Karnataka election: With son shaky in Chittapur will father Kharge return to bail him out?

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    The Chittapur assembly constituency is traditionally a stronghold. From 1957 this constituency has elected a Congress representative 10 times and that is no small number.

    Priyank Kharge

    The constituency in Kalaburgi district currently is represented by Priyank Kharge, the son of senior Congress leader, Mallikarjun Kharge. The reports from the ground indicate that this year around it is going to be no easy pickings for Kharge junior and his opponents are making him sweat.

    There are several allegations that have been made against Priyank in the constituency. Firstly some of the senior leaders are unhappy with him as he does not respect them. Secondly, there is heavy indulgence in caste politics which has left a number of voters unhappy. Further, there is also a threat of a mass boycott since a long-standing demand to upgrade villages such as Tarkaspet in Chittapur to a gram panchayat headquarters had not been fulfilled.

    The return of Kharge:

    With reports from the ground not sounding too good for Priyank Kharge, there is speculation galore that the senior may return to state politics. Mallikarjun Kharge is currently an MP from Kalaburgi Rural constituency and many senior leaders in the party want him to contest from Chittapur. If this materialises, then Priyank is likely to be shifted to Kalaburgi rural.

    The recent rumblings within the Congress which led to the exit of the senior leader, Mallikaya Guttedar too has not gone down too well for the Kharges. The Afzalpur MLA quit the Congress and bagged a BJP ticket. He has a huge reach in these areas and after joining the BJP had vowed that he would defeat the Kharges.

    Currently, there is immense pressure on senior Kharge to return to state politics. They feel that he has been a good leader and holds sway over the Dalit votes which would help the party in the long run.

    Prior to contesting from Chittapur, Mallikarjun Kharge had contested from Gurmitkal and won the elections 8 times. It was in 2008 that he moved to Chittapur and won the election by a margin of 17,422 votes against Valmiki Kamalu Naik of the BJP.

    In the 2009 elections, Priyank was defeated by Naik by a margin of 1,606 votes. However, in 2013, Pryank won the constituency by 31,191 votes by defeating Naik.

    The Congress in Chittapur had benefited heavily from the problems within the JD(S). Senior leaders such as Vishwanath Patil Hebbal, Srinivas Sagar, Ravindra Sajjanshetty and Lingareddy Bhasareddy had defected from the JD(S). This, in fact, helped the Congress consolidate heavily on the Lingayat and Reddy votes. However this time the equations have changed for the Congress with Hebbal and Bhasareddy joining the BJP.

    Voter breakdown in Chittapur:

    • Total voters: 2,28,618
    • Men: 1,14,714
    • Women: 1,13,904
    • Lingayats: 85,000
    • Dalits: 35,000
    • Kurubas: 22,000
    • Kabballgas: 48,000
    • Lambanis: 16,000
    • Villages: 96
    • Polling stations: 258
    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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