It is battle of titans in Kanakapura Assembly constituency, as veteran politicians P.G.R. Sindhia from the Janata Dal (Secular) and D.K. Shivakumar from the Congress have locked horns here.
Kanakapura is a prestigious constituency in Karnataka, as political stalwarts including Ramkrishna Hegde and the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda contested from here. Traditionally it is bastion of Janata Parivar and Mr. Sindhia represented the constituency six times . After delimitation of Assembly constituencies, Kanakapura got parts of Satanur Assembly segment represented by D.K. Shivakumar, who is into granite business and has faced accusations of illegal quarrying in the region. In the 2008 elections, D.K. Shivakumar established Congress supremacy over Kanakapura.
Despite being represented by political stalwarts, Kanakapura constituency comprising of Kanakapura Kasba hobli, Town Municipal area, Kodihalli, Uyyamballi and Satanur hobli, remained backward and ranked 172nd among the backward taluks in the Prof. D.M. Nanjundappa Committee Report on Regional Imbalance.
Congress supporters accuse Mr. Sindhia of not creating irrigation and industrial facility. They claim that it was D.K. Shivakumar, who held Urban Development portfolio, completed Harobele Irrigation project which irrigates 20,000 acres.
Showing the two-lane National High way that passes through M.G. Road, M. Raghu a salesman says that Kanakapura got better connectivity in the past five years and residents of town consuming “pure” water because of four plants commissioned by a trust being run by D.K. Shivakumar.
Refuting the charge, Mr. Sindhia says that it was responsible for the creation of Harohalli-Kanakapura Industrial Belt and looked into problems of drinking water and power when he first became the legislator in 1983. He also claimed credit for Harohalli irrigation project.
However, these are not the main issues playing a role in the election in this “politically conscious” constituency. People breathe, eat and sleep politics here. A no-holds-barred fight is visible between Mr. Shivakumar and Mr. Sindhia in the constituency as where Bharatiya Janata Party has no foothold.
“Though caste never played a major role in this constituency dominated by Vokkaligas, in the changed circumstances, the factor might become important now” says Mr. Chinnaswamy, who contested as Bahujan Samaj Party candidate in the previous election.
“If that were to be the case, I should be benefited,” openly admits Mr. Shivakumar, who belongs to the Vokkaliga community. Mr. Sindhia, a non-Vokkaliga, makes similar claims showing big portraits of the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and Mr. Kumaraswamy in his election office. “What moral right does Sindhia have, who once opposed Mr. Kumaraswamy for joining hands with BJP in 2006, to seek votes to make latter the Chief Minister?” Mr. Shivakumar asks.
According to Rajashekara Karanth, a tea stall owner it is money and muscle power which plays real role in this election. “If that is the case, I am not a match to Congress,” Mr. Sindhia confesses.
Both, Mr. Sindhia and Mr. Shivakumar are sweating out to woo the electorate. Both claim to have been working in the constituency from the past six months and charging each other of using “unethical” methods to woo the electorate.
Though position of JD (S) was weak till recently, campaign by Mr. Gowda and Mr. Kumaraswamy is said to have improved the party’s prospects. Both, however, equally exude confidence of winning, and are busy making calculations on margins.