He is pitted against Kumaraswamy, Bache Gowda
Chickballapur has emerged as one of the key constituencies in the State that is witnessing an interesting triangular contest with the dramatic entry of the former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy into the fray.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate G.V. Srirama Reddy, who has considerable clout in a few Assembly segments, may benefit to an extent from this triangular fight.
While Union Minister and Congress candidate M. Veerappa Moily and Mr. Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) are considered “outsiders”, Bharatiya Janata Party’s B.N. Bache Gowda and Mr. Reddy are from within the constituency.
It may not be an easy walk for Mr. Moily who is facing anti-incumbency in this Congress bastion as he is pitted against two Vokkaliga stalwarts — Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Gowda. There appears to be every chance of the Vokkaliga votes getting divided between these two. Sixteen other candidates, including retired police officer K. Arkesh from the Aam Aadmi Party are in the fray.
The constituency has 16.58 lakh voters, with the highest concentration in the Yelahanka Assembly segment (3.24 lakh) represented by BJP MLA S.R. Vishwanath.
Dhanaraju, a kirana shop owner in Railway Gollahalli in the Nelamangala Assembly segment, claimed that this time many Vokkaligas had decided to vote for Mr. Kumaraswamy. When pointed out that Mr. Gowda too is a Vokkaliga, he said, “Kumaranna is closer to us than Mr. Gowda.”.
On the other hand, many voters are neither aware of the names of the candidates nor have been approached by political parties. Shakuntala, who was plucking marigold at a field in Guddadahalli in the Yelahanka Assembly segment, said she did not know who were contesting this time. “We have not been approached by any party,” she said. Mangala Basavaraju, who was fetching water from a roadside tap, said she was aware of the candidates as well as Narendra Modi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
Nagaraj, a government employee in Chickballapur town, said Mr. Moily’s failure to bring drinking water as promised in the previous election might work against him. He said it was a straight fight between Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Gowda. The former JD(S) MLA Jyothi Reddy joining the BJP might affect the party prospects in Gauribidanur and surrounding areas, he said.
Mr. Reddy, former Bagepalli MLA, is hopeful of garnering votes of the working class.
Of the eight Assembly segments, four are held by the Congress (Gauribidanur, Chickballapur, Hoskote and Doddaballapur), two by the JD(S) (Devanahalli and Nelamangala) and one each by the BJP (Yelahanka) and an Independent (Bagepalli).