Vijaykumar Patil

The number includes 7,595 women candidates

10,479 aspirants withdraw nomination papers

Belgaum: The gram panchayat elections in Belgaum district, slated to be held in the second phase on May 12, is bound to witness a fierce electoral battle in view of the strategies adopted by the contestants. It is also said that the political parties supporting them have not extended their full help to them.

After the last day of withdrawal of nomination papers on Monday, 20,409 contestants remain in the fray for the 7,176 seats. These include 7,595 women. In all, 10,479 aspirants withdrew their nomination papers. As many as 901 members have been elected unopposed. This includes all the 22 seats of Ankalgi Gram Panchayat in Gokak taluk.

However, nomination papers were not received for 37 seats in different panchayats.

Of the 20,409 candidates in the fray, 2,494 belong to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes 1,511, Backward Classes A 5,036, Backward Classes B 1,339 and General 10,029.

Contrast

The figure 901 is in sharp contrast to the expectations and readings of political observers that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party Government was all out to lure rivals for a consideration to ensure the unanimous elections in as many as seats possible.

The BJP here, and the other major parties which have thrown their lot behind the candidates, were expecting unopposed election in at least 25 per cent of the seats. However, only 11 per cent of the seats saw unopposed election.

The serious contestants and their supporting parties/leaders are continuing their efforts to win over rivals, particularly the politically unaffiliated candidates through various means. What they are actually looking forward to is to ensure that non-serious candidates “retire” in their favour.

Low-key campaigning

Unlike in the general elections, campaigning is by and large low key as the contestants are local and familiar and in touch with the voters. Also, given the caste-dynamics in the villages, which continues to be a dominating factor in any election, more so in gram panchayat elections, caste is expected to play a dominating factor in the voting pattern.

The following is the number of candidates elected unopposed in 10 taluks of the district: Belgaum 51 gram panchayats, 854 seats, 104 elected, 2,730 in the fray; Khanapur 51 GPs, 489 seats, 97 elected, 1,509 in the fray; Hukkeri 49 GPs, 664 seats, 86 elected, 1,957 in the fray; Bailhongal 45 GPs, 613 seats, 57 elected, 1,801 in the fray; Savadatti 38 GPs, 589 seats, 41 elected, 1,753 in the fray; Gokak 51 GPs, 831 seats, 195 elected, 2,403 in the fray; Ramdurg 35 GPs, 459 seats, 43 elected, 1,376 in the fray; Chikkodi 65 GPs, 1,046 seats, 126 elected, 2,687 in the fray; Athani 46 GPs, 918 seats, 79 elected, 2,292 in the fray; and Raibag 33 gram panchayats, 713 seats, 73 elected, 1,901 in the fray.

The following are the gram panchayats where members have been elected unopposed: Hukkeri — Beniwad (10), Hargapur (9), Bellad Bagewadi (29); Gokak — Ankalgi (22); Chikkodi — Akkol (21); Raibag — Palbhavi (13); and Athani — Junjarwad (10).

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