The May 5 Assembly elections is vital for Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah. He has candidly admitted to his aspirations of becoming the Chief Minister, even as the party traditionally waits till the last moment to name the one for the hot seat.
With such a political heavyweight in the fray, all eyes are on Varuna, which was created after dissolving Bannur Assembly constituency during the delimitation exercise in 2008. That year, Mr. Siddaramaiah shifted his electoral base to Chamundeshwari, from where he was elected to the Assembly for the first time in 1983.
Several parts of the erstwhile Bannur constituency are now part of Varuna, along with some parts of Mysore taluk (earlier with Chamundeshwari), Nanjangud taluk and T Narsipur taluk.
Mr. Siddaramaiah preferred Varuna segment over Chamundeshwari because political equations here are more “favourable” to him. The Congress leader, who has won five times, including the byelection in 2006 from Chamundeshwari, notched up an impressive victory from Varuna in 2008.
Varuna has a sizeable chunk of Kurubas, the community to which Mr. Siddaramaiah belongs and Lingayats. Besides, there are the Nayakas, Vokkaligas and other communities in the constituency.
This time, his political opponents are gearing up to give Mr. Siddaramaiah a good fight, though those pitted against him are considered to be political “lightweights” compared to him. It is the first Assembly election for Ka.Pu. Siddalingaswamy of the Karnataka Janata Paksha, S.D. Mahendra (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Cheluvaraj (Janata Dal-Secular).
Mr. Siddalingaswamy, a close aide of KJP president and former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, is a native of Nanjangud taluk. Mr. Cheluvaraj is a retired police officer belonging to the Nayak community, while Mr. Mahendra is the former chairman, Karnataka Exhibition Authority (KEA) and a Lingayat. The BJP and the KJP are banking on Lingayat votes, while the JD(S) is hoping to garner Vokkaliga and Nayak votes.
Prominent leaders of major political parties are expected to converge on Varuna to seek votes for their candidates, who are facing the formidable Mr. Siddaramaiah. Though the Congress has not projected him as the Chief Ministerial candidate, supporters of Mr. Siddaramaiah are aspiring to see him in the post, which has so far eluded him.
On the ground, it is Mr. Siddaramaiah’s son, Rakesh Siddaramaiah, who is campaigning for his father.