Constituency watch: Karnataka

The Mandya Lok Sabha constituency is bracing itself to witness yet another high-voltage poll battle between the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular).

Comprising eight Assembly segments — Malavalli, Maddur, Melkote, Mandya, Srirangapatna, Nagamangala and K.R. Pet in Mandya district, and Krishnarajanagar in Mysore district — the Mandya Lok Sabha constituency is considered a safe seat for the Congress.

This constituency has witnessed 18 elections since 1952 in which Congress candidates have won 13. M.K. Shivananjappa (Congress – 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967), S.M. Krishna (from the Praja Socialist Party in 1968 and from the Congress in 1971 and 1980), K. Chikkalingaiah (Congress – 1972 and 1979), K.V. Shankare Gowda (Janata Party – 1984), G. Made Gowda (Congress – 1989 and 1991), the former Speaker Krishna (Janata Dal – 1996), M.H. Ambareesh (from the Janata Dal in 1998, and from the Congress 1999 and 2004), N. Cheluvarayaswamy (JD-S – 2009) and Ramya (Congress – 2013) have won here.

Previous opponents

After an interesting battle in the 2013 byelection, actor-turned-politician Ms. Ramya from the Congress and the former MLA C.S. Puttaraju of the JD(S) are again confronting each other this time. Ms. Ramya had defeated Mr. Puttaraju by 67,611 votes in 2013.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has no base in Mandya, has fielded B. Shivalingaiah, the Republican Party of India has chosen Kommerahalli Krishnamurthy to contest. The Aam Aadmi Party and other parties have not announced their candidates yet.

Deciding factors

Mandya district is considered the ‘heartland of Vokkaligas’. However, it is a fact that people from other backward classes (OBC), Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and minority communities will decide the fate of the candidates.

Vokkaligas command around 35 to 38 per cent of votes in Mandya. This has prompted the Congress, the BJP and the JD(S) to field Ms. Ramya, Mr. Puttaraju and Mr. Shivalingaiah, who belong to the community. The community votes are likely to be split among these leaders.

Issues

The agriculture and horticulture sector are ridden with problems in the constituency. Paddy, sugarcane, tobacco and coconut are major crops in the region. The growers reel under acute shortage of water for irrigation owing to lack of scientific water management, and drought.

While the water-level in the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) had reached below the dead storage level last year because of drought and the Cauvery water crisis, many waterways have not been modernised for several decades. Wastage of water, improper flow and canal breaches have impacted agricultural and horticultural produce in the constituency.

The shortage of drinking water is acute in the region even though the district has five rivers. The Mandya Zilla Panchayat supplies tanker water to hundreds of villages. Healthcare is another serious problem in the region, with Japanese Encephalitis, dengue and viral fevers claiming several lives in the district last year. Atrocities against Dalits and women also dominate the region.

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