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It may not be easy for Hindasgeri this time

By M. Madan Mohan

HUBLI JUNE 22. With the election to the State Legislative Council from the local authorities constituency scheduled to take place by the year end, the two nominees representing the undivided Dharwad District, A.M. Hindasgeri of the Congress, and Basavaraj Bommai of the Janata Dal, appear to have swapped positions as far as the pre-election scenario is concerned.

When the election was held six years ago under the J.H.Patel Government, the JD nominee, Mr. Basavaraj Bommai, was caught in a whirlpool of dissidence in the party, and Mr. Hindasgeri of the Congress appeared destined to a comfortable victory.

But the situation has changed now. The Congress is in power, and Mr. Hindasgeri, who should have faced no trouble, has been drawn into a vortex of dissidence in the party, while Mr. Basavaraj Bommai appears confident of retaining the seat.

Mr. Hindasgeri has been having a bad patch in politics. A member associated with the H.K. Patil faction, Mr. Hindasgeri is caught in the tussle for supremacy between the Patil faction and the one led by D.K. Shivakumar, Minister for Urban Development. The tussle had interesting overtones in the initial days with Mr. Patil and Mr. Shivakumar considered close to the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna. But over the years, while the relations between Mr. Krishna and Mr. Patil appear to have been strained, Mr. Shivakumar has emerged much closer to the Chief Minister.

Mr. Shivakumar is the mentor of the anti-Hindasgeri activities carried on by four legislators from the district, who had a grouse that Mr. Hindasgeri, an MLC, had been made a minister.

Mr. Hindasgeri first lost the post of President of the Hubli-Dharwad Corporation District Congress Committee. Later, he lost the post of minister to K.N. Gaddi of the Shivakumar group. Efforts of Mr. Patil to protect the interests of Mr. Hindasgeri went in vain. Mr. Hindasgeri was also marginalised by the Shivakumar group in the election to the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation and in the selection of candidates from the party for the mayoral poll.

Mr. Hindasgeri was in political wilderness after he failed to retain the Hubli Assembly seat in the 1994 elections. It was because of Mr. Patil, he was chosen a candidate for one of the two seats from the undivided Dharwad District to the Legislative Council. The JD, which was in power, surprisingly fielded only one candidate, Mr. Basavaraj Bommai.

What would have been a unanimous election was spoiled by dissidence in the JD with leaders owing allegiance to Deve Gowda fielding a candidate to spoil the chances of Mr. Basavaraj Bommai. He had to work hard to overcome the challenge posed by his own party men, while the Congress candidate found his way to the Council without any obstacle. Despite hurdles, Mr. Basavaraj Bommai got elected to the Council.

Things have changed now. Mr. Hindasgeri finds himself mired in dissidence in the party. None of the legislators from Dharwad and Haveri districts, which are part of the constituency, is in his favour.

Besides, workers at the grassroots are unhappy that Mr. Hindasgeri is not in touch with the constituents, including gram, taluk, and zilla panchayats, and urban bodies in Dharwad, Gadag, and Haveri districts.

The anti-Hindasgeri group is expected to work overtime to ensure that the path of Mr. Hindasgeri is blocked.

The key to the success of Mr. Hindasgeri lies in ensuring that he remains the lone candidate from the party as in the previous occasion.

At the moment, it appears to be a tall order.

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