A keen contest is expected between traditional rivals Congress and CPI(M)
Bagepalli Assembly constituency in Chickballapur district, a backward region bordering Andhra Pradesh, is set for a tough tussle once again between the Communist Party of India (Marxist) nominee G.V. Sriram Reddy and Congress candidate and present MLA N. Sampangi. Both Mr. Reddy and Mr. Sampangi have won twice from here. This year’s polling will be keenly watched because of the close contest between them last time. In 2008, Mr. Reddy was declared elected first. However, after recounting of votes, he was declared runner up by a thin margin of 938 votes.
Always the two
The poll history of Bagepalli seat shows that it has consistently returned either a Congress or a CPI(M) candidate to the Vidhana Soudha. While Congress has been represented by different individuals, Mr. Reddy has been contesting on CPI(M) ticket for the last six Assembly elections. Though the CPI(M) is contesting in 16 other seats in different parts of the State this time, Bagepalli is seen as a crucial segment by the party and there was a huge mobilisation of people when Mr. Reddy filed his nominations.
Mr. Reddy has in the past led struggles on key issues such as irrigation and drinking water in this dry region. Besides local problems, the CPI(M) has also taken up sociological struggles like ‘pankthi bheda’ (separate seating for Dalits in temples) in Udupi Sri Krishna math and ‘made snana’ in Kukke Subrahmnaya temple, which also find resonance in the campaigns here.
Mr. Sampangi, on the other hand, claims that he has spent Rs. 600 crore on development works in the last five years in the constituency. Mr. Reddy counters this claim, saying it is a “total lie”.
Besides Mr. Reddy and Mr. Sampangi, the Janata Dal (Secular) nominee Harinath Reddy and Independent candidate S.N. Subba Reddy are the other two MLA-hopefuls who are making their presence felt in Bagepalli segment, where the total number of contestants is 27. However, the real fight will be between traditional rivals CPI(M) and the Congress.