Muniyappa has won the Kolar seat six times in a row since 1991
Two seasoned leaders and a political novice are locked in a triangular contest in the Kolar Lok Sabha (reserved) constituency.
While Congress nominee K.H. Muniyappa has won the seat six times in a row since 1991, BJP candidate M. Narayanaswamy is a former Congressman and a four-time MLA. Janata Dal (Secular) candidate K. Keshav is a political novice.
They are among the 22 candidates in the fray in the constituency. Cultural personality Kotiganahalli Ramaiah of the Aam Aadmi Party is also making his presence felt here.
Of the eight Assembly segments in the constituency, Congress represents two, JD(S) three, and the BJP one. The other two segments are represented by Independents.
Both the BJP and the JD(S), which have registered good performance in the past against the Congress, are making all efforts to wrest the seat this time. The Congress has the track record of winning here in 14 of the 15 general elections held since 1952. The Janata Party had won the seat in 1984.
Mr. Muniyappa won by a margin of 11,000 in 2004 and by 23,000 votes in 2009. D.S. Veeraiah of the BJP put up a strong fight against him on both the occasions. The BJP and the JD(S) are both trying to woo the voters this time to end Mr. Muniyappa’s winning streak.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) district secretary Gandhinagar Narayanaswamy alleges that Mr. Muniyappa has been a non-performer. “His contributions to the perennially drought-hit and backward region are zero in spite of he being an MP for the past 23 years and a Minister three times,” he said.
Mr. Muniyappa’s failure to solve drinking water problem and revive Bharat Gold Mines Ltd. speaks volumes about his lack of concern for the region’s people, he alleged.
Mr. Muniyappa, however, refuted the charges as baseless. Though he exudes confidence of getting re-elected, it may not be an easy walk for Mr. Muniyappa as many in the Congress are upset against him for his alleged autocratic attitude.
His role in getting the former Minister S.N. Krishnaiah Setty, who is facing charges, inducted into the party and getting the support of Kolar’s Independent MLA Varthur Prakash, who used to spew venom against the Congress, created a rift in the party, with influential leader and MLC Nazir Ahmad openly opposing Mr. Muniyappa’s actions.
Mr. Keshav is confident of unseating Mr. Muniyappa as there is an “unprecedented” unity among the JD(S) rank and file after initial bickering over his candidature.
It is alleged that the JD(S) named Mr. Keshav, a Bangalore-based realtor, as its candidate only because he is financially sound to take on Mr. Muniyappa “effectively”. The tacit support of the CPI(M) will likely help the JD(S).
Organisational weakness notwithstanding, BJP is mainly relying on “non-performance” of Mr. Muniyappa, and ‘Modi wave’. The BJP is also banking on the party’s performance here in the last two Lok Sabha elections.