Rahul Gandhi to campaign for Mahesh in Hassan today

Three-time MLA and Janata Dal (Secular) candidate H.S. Prakash is fighting for a fourth time to represent Hassan constituency in the State Assembly while Congress nominee H.K. Mahesh, a greenhorn, is making all-out efforts to make his debut as an MLA.

The contest in Hassan is between these two candidates as the BJP’s presence in the fray is being seen as insignificant.

As candidates of the three major parties are Vokkaligas, votes of people belonging to this major community are expected to split three ways.

There are 1,87,687 voters in the constituency.

The Janata Dal(S) is banking on its traditional vote-base. Senior leaders of the party H.D. Deve Gowda, H.D. Revanna and H.D. Kumaraswamy have all campaigned for Mr. Prakash.

The contentious issue of notification of 587 acres of land for developing a residential layout on the outskirts of Hassan city and its subsequent denotification is being raised by both the Janata Dal(S) and the Congress. The land was notified when the Janata Dal(S) was governing the State and it was seen as the party’s strategy to acquire land from people belonging to a particular sect among Vokkaligas. However, the land was denotified when B.S. Yeddyurappa was the Chief Minister. People who benefitted by the denotification order felicitated Mr. Yeddyurappa, KJP leader, recently.

A major section of voters is critical of the Janata Dal(S) for notifying the land. On the other hand, Congress workers have been raising this issue during campaign in an attempt to create an anti-Janata Dal(S) wave. Congress leaders have been campaigning for the 44-year-old Mahesh by projecting him as a youth leader. Mr. Mahesh, who was selected under the Youth Congress quota, is certainly younger than Mr. Prakash, who is 61. Indian Youth Congress secretary Mathew Kuzhalanadan, who has been camping here, told The Hindu that All India Congress Committee vice-president Rahul Gandhi was keen on Mr. Mahesh’s election.

“It’s an important seat for us. Mr. Gandhi will campaign in Hassan on Wednesday,” he said.

Leaders of both the Congress and the Janata Dal(S) are making all-out efforts to woo Muslims who form a major chunk of voters in Hassan city. While the Janata Dal(S) road show, in which Mr. Deve Gowda took part, passed through Muslim-dominant areas, Congress workers took out a padayatra, in which Karnataka Pradesh Youth Congress committee president Rizwan Arshad participated, in the same localities.

The BJP has fielded 41-year-old M.B. Guruprasad, a long-time volunteer of the RSS, to counter the Congress’ strategy. However, Mr. Guruprasad’s presence in the fray is being seen as insignificant as the BJP has no vote base in the district.

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