The battle of the ballot in the Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency is taking an interesting turn with the Congress banking on the performance of Union Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge and the Bharatiya Janata Party harping on the ‘Modi wave’ to blunt the Congress campaign.

While the Congress is projecting the schemes launched during Mr. Kharge’s tenure, the BJP, which has nothing to say against him, is banking on the anti-incumbency factor against the United Progressive Alliance government.

Although all major political parties have fielded candidates in the constituency, the main contest appears to be between the Congress and the BJP.

The BJP has once again fielded the former Minister Revu Naik Belamagi against Mr. Kharge. In the 2009 elections, Mr. Belamagi lost by a margin of more than 13,400 votes. Mr. Belamagi tasted defeat in the 2013 Assembly elections too losing the fight to Congress candidate G. Ramakrishna from the Gulbarga Rural Assembly constituency. But two successive defeats have not diminished his confidence.

Although Mr. Kharge is confident of romping home with a comfortable majority, he has launched a systematic yet intensive campaigning, visiting almost all the 1,800 villages in the constituency and meeting people by conducting padayatras, and addressing street corner meetings and public rallies.

“The response is very good… I will prove once and again that my margin of victory increases in every election which I have contested,” he told The Hindu.

The morale of the Congress workers is high. Although the Congress won seven out of the eight Assembly segments in the constituency, the vote share of the BJP and the Congress is almost same after the merger of the Karnataka Janata Paksha and the BSR Congress with the BJP.

The response of the voters, who have remained loyal to the Congress all these years, is muted and it seems they are playing their cards close to their hearts.

While the AAP candidate B.T. Lalitha Naik has undertaken intensive door-to-door campaigns, D.G. Sagar, the Janata Dal (Secular) candidate, is yet to hit the road.

The minorities, Scheduled Castes, and the backward communities, who form a majority in the constituency, will be a deciding factor in the election.

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