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Will Ambareesh’s exit be BJP’s X-factor in the Mandya region?

By Vicky Nanjappa
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    The old war horse from Mandya has said that he would not be contesting the elections. While he cited health reasons for his decision, sources say that he was upset with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and hence decided to stay away from the battle.

    Ambareesh

    Mandya is the heartland of the Vokkaligas who comprise 12 to 15 per cent of the electorate. It has been a traditional Congress-JD(S) base and the battle has been a heated one for the 7 assembly constituencies under it.

    Ambareesh has not only decided to refrain from contesting, but has also said that he would not campaign. This is bound to raise tempers among the Vokkaliga community who have indirectly blamed Siddaramaiah for this development.

    Also Read | Will Siddaramaiah be CM if Congress wins: 4 scenarios

    However the interesting question is who will this development benefit. It is bound to hurt the Congress as one of its tallest leaders from the region is away. It could benefit the JD(S), no doubt, but there are many smiling faces in the BJP as well.

    The BJP feels that it could put up a good fight in the region. While it is also banking on the consolidation of the anti-Siddaramaiah Vokkaliga votes, it would look to better its performance in the region. In 2013, the BJP polled 2,930 votes in Mandya. This time it has chosen C Shivanna fondly called "simple Shivanna." He is a popular leader among the masses and the BJP is banking on him heavily.

    The impact of Ambareesh:

    Ambareesh popularly known as rebel star has a huge influence on the electorate. He has sufficient cloud in Mandya, Nelamangala and Maddur. In the backdrop of this decision, there are already feelers being sent out by the BJP to Ambareesh. If the BJP is successful in doing so, it would be a huge boost for the party in this region where it has always struggled.

    The other factor that the BJP would work on is S M Krishna who has remained absent from the campaign despite him joining the party. Several leaders are set to meet with him and ask him to campaign for the party in these regions where he was once a tall Vokkaliga leader.

    Also Read | Karnataka Elections: Full list of BJP, Congress star campaigners

    Both the BJP and JD(S) would be looking to seize the initiative as there are reports suggesting some amount of resentment towards the Congress from the Vokkaligas. A recent poll survey had also shown the BJP making gains in this region where the Vokkaliga votes are concerned.

    The Vokkaligas have blamed Siddaramaiah for overlooking them and doling out sops as part of his AHINDA agenda. This despite them voting for the Congress is large numbers in 2013.

    The BJP would need to take a three pronged approach if they need to improve their tally in this region. The 2013 performance of the party is nothing to speak about and this statistics will reveal why. In Mandya, the party got 2.930 votes while in Maddur it polled 1,745. In Srirangapatna and Nagamangala the party managed just 3,102 and 1,085 votes respectively.

    The BJP would look to rope in Krishna and Ambareesh and also capitalise heavily on the anti Congress Vokkaliga vote.

    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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