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Updated: May 3, 2013 09:30 IST

It’s Vokkaligas vs. Lingayats here

Nagesh Prabhu
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The Vijayanagar Assembly constituency, which is plagued by pollution and inundation in most of its low-lying areas in the monsoon, will witness a keen contest between sitting MLA M. Krishnappa of the Congress and Housing Minister V. Somanna of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mr. Somanna, a four-time MLA, has shifted from Govindarajnagar to Vijayanagar constituency to take on bête noire Mr. Krishnappa, popularly known as ‘Layout Krishnappa’, one of the richest candidates in the State. Both are residents of Vijayanagar.

Though there are 25 candidates in the fray, the main contest is between the Congress and the BJP. While Janata Dal (Secular) is fielding a political novice, B.S. Kanyakumari, who is a relative unknown in the constituency, the Karnataka Janata Paksha’s nominee is B.S. Vagesh Prasad, son of late B. Shivappa Shetty, a social worker, who belongs to the Lingayat community. There are about 20,000 Lingayat voters in the constituency.

A quick round of the constituency reveals that most of the voters believe the JD(S) is not serious about the contest and has fielded a candidate with the objective of supporting Mr. Krishnappa, who belongs to the Vokkaliga community which is dominant in the constituency.

Many voters termed the contest between the Congress and the BJP as a “fight between two dominant communities — the Vokkaligas and Lingayats”.

“The KJP has fielded Mr. Prasad to ensure a split among Lingayat votes and to defeat Mr. Somanna, who declined to join the KJP,” says B.H. Veeresha, an RTI activist. He pointed out that the constituency has many religious places — the Adichunchanagiri Math, Shani Mahatma temple, Maruthi Mandira, Kodandaramaswamy temple, Gali Anjaneya temple and the Sankshtahara Ganapati temple. In the 2008 Assembly elections, Mr. Somanna, who was then in the Congress, contested from Govindarajnagar and humbled R. Ravindra of the BJP by a margin of 24,362 votes. However, Mr. Somanna soon joined the BJP under ‘Operation Lotus’ and contested the 2009 byelection from Govindarajnagar, and lost to Priya Krishna, son of Layout Krishnappa, by a margin of 5,239 votes. The JD(S), it may be recalled, had lent support to Mr. Priya Krishna.

With Mr. Somanna and Mr. Krishnappa locked in hectic campaigning, Mr. Veeresha said: “This time Vijayanagar is going to witness a photo finish.”

Mr. Somanna is banking on the development works he undertook over the years, such as construction of KSRTC bus-terminal on Mysore Road, hi-tech library at Hampinagar, improvement of parks, playgrounds and installation of streetlights.

But all is not well, says Shivakumar Shetty, company secretary and resident of Vijayanagar. “Road widening works on the busy Mysore Road, traffic jams at the railway crossing in Bapujinagar and narrow roads in some localities have made life miserable for commuters.”

The Vrishabhavathi and its tributaries are looked at as “a nuisance” by the residents. These rivulets, over the years, have turned into sewerage drains. “Bapujinagar, Deepanjalinagar, Timber yard Layout and surrounding areas get inundated when there is heavy rainfall,” says Preetham Bhandary, resident of Bapujinagar.

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