At the outset though it looks like a quadrangular contest in Kollegal Assembly Constituency, in reality it is a straight fight between the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While the Congress is trying to retain its hold on the constituency, the BJP is investing all its resources to wrest the seat. However, there is no reason for poll pundits to neglect the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which are trying their best for the victory of their candidates.

The constituency, comprising Yalandur taluk , two hoblis of Kollegal taluk and Santemarahalli hobli of Chamarajanagar taluk, has 1,83,019 voters (93,386 men and 89,633 women). Though it is a reserved constituency, it is the “caste” Hindus which will decide the fate of the candidates. Of the 12 candidates in the fray, including eight independents, none are confident of winning the election on their own strength. Every one is concentrating on winning the election by the pulling leg of candidates from other political parties.

While the BJP is counting on votes the BSP candidate is going to secure, Congress is banking on the vote bank of BJP leader A.R. Krishnamurthy, who was denied ticket, and his unhappy supporters. Popular leaders in the constituency, A.R. Dhruvanarayan of Congress, A.R. Krishnamurthy of BJP and N. Mahesh of BSP are not in the fray this time. In their place, the former MLAs S. Jayanna of the Congress G.N. Nanjunadaswamy of the BJP and S. Balaraj of Janata Dal (Secular) are in the fray. Victory of any one of the three would create history, as the electorate in the constituency have not re-elected a candidate in the last 15 years. Former IPS officer Subhash Bharani who was with the BJP till recently is contesting on BSP ticket this time.

It is unfortunate that the problems plaguing the constituency such as drought, problem of drinking water, migration of poor, unemployment, delay in implementing Kabini II Stage, crisis of silk farmers and bad roads have not become issues .

Though every political party is spending huge amount of money to woo the electorate, the election is being fought on caste lines. “People are not rejecting money being offered by political parties for votes. But, ultimately it is caste that counts”, says, Siddappa, a tea vendor in Yelandur.

Almost all the Congress leaders have campaigned for S. Jayanna, who is a follower of Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah.

The former Union Minister V. Srinivasa Prasad and Union Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge are leaving no stone unturned in wooing Dalits, by reportedly cautioning them that voting for the BSP would indirectly help the BJP. The party has also deputed leaders of major and minuscule communities as a precautionary measure.

The BJP Ministers Aravind Limbavali and Halappa, chairpersons of boards and corporation are working overtime as it is a question of “do or die” for them. The party is not prepared to neglect the Tamil electorates. It is using “statue diplomacy” to secure their support too, besides support of minority and majority communities in the constituency.

The former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is fighting lonely battle here and is trying to woo the electorate through roadshows. Interestingly, this constituency rejected candidates of all political parties in the 2004 Assembly elections by electing S. Balaraj, an independent. The electorates of the constituency, known for springing surprises, are keeping cards close to their chests.

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