Moily, Kumaraswamy, Bache Gowda are in the race from Chickballapur Lok Sabha constituency

The Chickballapur Lok Sabha constituency, which encompasses the Kempegowda International Airport and parts of Bangalore Rural district, has problems aplenty.

While Yelahanka, Devanahalli and Nelamangala Assembly constituencies are witnessing a surge in real estate development thanks to the proximity of the airport, the other five constituencies — Gauribidanur, Bagepalli, Chickballapur and Doddaballapur — are plagued by water shortage. Though closer to the State capital, infrastructure is inadequate in these four constituencies.

The constituency has many rivers, including the Palar, Ponnaiyar, Pennar, Pinakini, Papagni, Arkavathi and Kumudvathi and their tributaries, but they are not perennial, leaving the areas parched throughout the year. As a result, the region is completely dependant on rain and groundwater for both irrigation and drinking water purposes.

Yettinahole project

Consequently, the major demand of voters in this constituency is safe drinking water, which every political party has made the main electoral issue during successive elections.

Riding over the assurance of providing drinking water from west-flowing rivers, Union Minister M. Veerappa Moily got elected in 2009 with a margin of 51,381 votes. Mr. Moily’s candidature and his victory was a big surprise since he was neither from the region nor did he have a strong caste support. Hailing from the region which is ‘likely’ to be affected by the river-diversion [Dakshina Kannada], Mr. Moily’s promise on the Yettinahole project had a big impact on his electoral fortunes.

However, even after five years, Mr. Moily has just been able to get the foundation stone laid for the project amidst strong doubts as to whether the promised 24 tmcft of water would be available from Yettinahole.

Triangular contest

A pitched triangular contest is on the cards here with heavyweights from three major political parties contesting, even as the candidate from the Communist Part of India (Marxist) is a force to reckon with.

A traditional Congress bastion since 1977 [except the 1996 polls], Chickballapur this time is bound to witness a pitched battle unlike the one in 2009, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had fielded a relatively weak candidate.

While Mr. Moily is testing his fortunes for the second time, former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has jumped into the poll bandwagon to maximise the number of seats for his party — Janata Dal (Secular) — even as the BJP has fielded Vokkaliga strongman B.N. Bache Gowda. Former Bagepalli MLA G.V. Srirama Reddy is the CPI(M) candidate here.

Of the eight Assembly constituencies, four are held by Congress (Gauribidanur, Chickballapur, Hoskote and Doddaballapur), two by JD(S) (Devanahalli and Nelamangala) and one each by the BJP (Yelahanka) and one an Independent (Bagepalli).

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