While the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who has announced that he will contest the Lok Sabha elections as the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Shimoga is on a whirlwind tour of the constituency, the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) are searching for a suitable candidate to field against him.

Mr. Yeddyurappa has plunged into the election battle with a clear-cut plan. He has been intensely touring the Shimoga parliamentary constituency for the past one month.

He has visited the houses of senior BJP and Sangh parivar leaders and has sought their support in Shimoga, Shikaripur and Sagar.

Taking advantage of the ‘Modi wave’, Mr. Yeddyurappa is praising him to the hilt at public meetings. He is also highlighting the development works that were initiated in Shimoga during his tenure as Chief Minister.

Along with Mr. Yeddyurappa’s personal efforts, BJP activists in the district have maintained regular interaction with the voters through series of programmes, including the campaign to collect metal for the construction of the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat; setting up of tea stalls in public places in the name of Mr. Modi’s ‘Chai pe Charcha’; the drive to help the youths to enrol their names in the voters’ list; and door-to-door visits of voters.

The massive protest of arecanut growers, organised in Shimoga city recently, by Malnad Arecanut Marketing Cooperative Society (MAMCOS), which is in the control of Sahakara Bharati, the cooperative arm of the Sangh parivar, provided a platform for Mr. Yeddyurappa to speak to the farmers.

As Shimoga has become a high-profile constituency owing to Mr. Yeddyurappa contesting here, BJP national president Rajnath Singh will make a visit on February 26 to address a public rally.

The Congress is yet to finalise its candidate. Kumar Bangarappa, former Minister and son of the former Chief Minister late S. Bangarappa, an aspirant for Congress ticket who enjoys popularity among the youth, can give Mr. Yeddyurappa a run for his money. Mr. Kumar is from the Idiga community, the largest in the constituency. The minorities, who are in good numbers in Bhadravati and Shimoga taluks will also rally behind the Congress.

The JD(S) emerged as a strong political force in the district during the previous Assembly elections by winning three of the seven constituencies. It is also planning to field a member of the Bangarappa family. Sources in the JD(S) said it may field late Bangarappa’s wife, Shakunthala, or his elder daughter, Geetha Shivarajkumar. This may result in a split in the votes between the Congress and the JD(S), from which the BJP will benefit. To avoid this, the Congress is thinking of fielding Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar. However, a member of the working committee of Shimoga District Congress Committee and a close associate of Mr. Ratnakar told The Hindu on condition of anonymity that the latter was not keen to contest the election.

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