The amendment to Article 371 of the Constitution which confers special status on the six backward districts of Hyderabad Karnataka may benefit the Congress in the elections to the Assembly on May 5.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s morale seems low owing to infighting here and the exit of the former Chief Minister and Lingayat strongman B.S. Yeddyurappa from the party. Besides, the hurdles created by the BJP government in the State during the passage of the Bill like by first demanding inclusion of Bijapur and later taking exception to the proposals made in the draft have not gone down well with the people here.
Though the BJP made amends by withdrawing the objections, the government did not frame rules on reservation in jobs and education.
Although the campaign heat is yet to pick up, Congress has already started, rather subtly, to claim credit for the amendment which was pending for a long time.
The amended provision (Article 371-J) entails formation of a separate development board that will ensure that sufficient funds are allocated for the region’s progress, besides providing reservation in education and government jobs to the locals. Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal, Bellary and Bidar districts will benefit from this.
Meanwhile, two new outfits — the BSR Congress, headed by the former Minister B. Sriramulu and the Karnataka Janata Paksha of Mr. Yeddyurappa — have the onerous task of proving their tall claims.
While Mr. Sriramulu’s influence is over Bellary and Raichur, the KJP is banking heavily on the majority Lingayat votes.
If the outcome of the urban local bodies elections in the Hyderabad Karnataka districts is any indication, the Congress seems to be on the comeback trail.
In the 2008 Assembly elections, the BJP won 21 of the total 40 seats in the region, while the Congress, once a dominant force managed to win 14. The Janata Dal (S) won four seats and an Independent emerged victorious in one. In the subsequent parliamentary elections, the BJP won three of the five seats and the Congress two.
In the recent ULB elections, the Congress was a clear winner, bagging 402 of the 956 seats. The Janata Dal (S) won 147, the BJP 126, and KJP 82 seats. The BSR Congress suffered a humiliating defeat everywhere, including Bellary.