He faces a stiff challenge from JD(S) and Congress candidates

The central leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party may be pinning hopes on the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who is contesting from the Shimoga Lok Sabha constituency.

However, indications are that it is not going to be a cakewalk for the veteran leader as he is facing a stiff challenge from Janata Dal (Secular) candidate Geetha Shivarajkumar and Congress candidate Manjunath Bhandary.

Mr. Yeddyurappa had a head-start over his rivals as the BJP has a strong cadre base in the district and they commenced campaigning three months ago.

Programmes

In the run-up to the election, the BJP had organised a series of programmes, such as a campaign to collect metal for construction of a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat; a drive to help the people to enrol their names in the voters’ list; and the ‘Chai pe charcha with Modi’.

The BJP activists also began door-to-door campaigning to create awareness among voters on the failures of the United Progressive Alliance government and the benefits the constituency may get from Mr. Yeddyurappa’s entry into national politics.

Confident of victory

By the third week of February, Mr. Yeddyurappa had visited all the taluks in the constituency and was confident of winning by a huge margin.

However, the scenario has changed with the entry of Ms. Shivarajkumar, who is the daughter of the former Chief Minister S. Bangarappa.

The election campaign meetings of the JD(S) are attracting huge crowds in the rural areas of Sagar, Hosanagar, Sorab and Shimoga taluks.

Actor Shivarajkumar is seeking votes for his wife. Upendra and other Kannada actors are likely to campaign for the JD(S) candidate here.

Pacifying activists

The Congress is banking on the achievements of the UPA government and the pro-poor initiatives of the Siddaramaiah government. Initially, a section of Congress activists were upset over the denial of ticket to the former Minister Kumar Bangarappa. Mr. Bhandary is trying to take the disgruntled activists into confidence.

The participation of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in election campaign meetings in Shikaripur and Bhadravathi has boosted the morale of Congress activists.

A section of writers and members of progressive organisations have declared support for architect and social activist K.G. Sreedhar who is the Aam Aadmi Party candidate.

‘Modi wave’

Mr. Yeddyurappa is seeking votes on the basis of the development works initiated here during his tenure as Chief Minister, such as the construction of an airport in Shimoga city and widening of roads in the district. He is also hoping to gain from the ‘Modi wave’.

The JD(S) is trying to cash in on the goodwill and sympathy the people in the district have towards Mr. Bangarappa.

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