With the son of a former Minister, a one-time rebel-turned official BJP candidate, and a follower of a Minister in the Siddaramaiah Cabinet in the fray, the election to the Legislative Council from the Karnataka West Graduates constituency is likely to be a keen contest.
The candidates of the three major political parties are making every effort to woo the voters.
Polling is scheduled for Friday.
Janata Dal (Secular) candidate Vasant Horatti, son of the former Minister Basavraj Horatti, is banking on his fathers’ influence over teachers, who happen to be voters in the graduates constituency too.
S.V. Sankanur, once a close aide of Mr. Basavaraj Horatti, is contesting as the BJP candidate and is riding on the Narendra Modi wave. In 2010, Prof. Sankanur had gone against the wishes of BJP leaders by contesting as an Independent in the election to the Legislative Council from the Karnataka West Teachers Constituency after he was denied party ticket. Although Mr. Basavaraj Horatti won from the constituency for the sixth time in a row, his victory did not come easy as Prof. Sankanur, who finished third, ate into the vote base of both the JD(S) and the BJP.
Now, Prof. Sankanur is trying to make his second attempt to enter the Council. There is, however, some dissent within the party on his candidature.
Similarly, there are differences within the JD(S) over Mr. Vasant Horatti’s candidature.
Both JD(S) and BJP candidates are banking heavily on the votes of teachers in the constituency (around 22,000).
While Mr. Vasant Horatti runs an educational institution, Prof. Sankanur is a retired college teacher.Once Congress bastion
The constituency was once a bastion of the Congress, from where the present Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj H.K. Patil won four times in succession. However, in 2008, when the BJP was in power in the State, Mohan Limbikai, a political greenhorn fielded by the BJP, shocked Mr. Patil. Mr. Limbikai later resigned to switchover to the KJP and subsequently returned to the BJP before the Assembly elections. As he failed to impress upon the BJP high command to give him party ticket, Prof. Sankanur is contesting the polls.
Now, Mr. Patil’s follower P.H. Neeralakeri, an advocate, is trying his luck as the Congress candidate and is campaigning extensively. Thirteen others are contesting as Independent candidates.
Although it seems to be a triangular contest, the real fight is between the BJP and the JD(S). The former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar seems to have taken special interest in the constituency, while Mr. Basavaraj Horatti is making all efforts to get his son elected.
In the constituency spread over the districts of Dharwad, Haveri, Gadag and Uttara Kannada, a lot depends on the decision of graduate voters from the Dharwad district, who form over 39 per cent of the electorate.