T.V. Sivanandan

Seasoned campaigners, including Kharge, and relative newcomers in the fray

GULBARGA: Gulbarga district will witness an interesting battle of ballots with seasoned campaigners such as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president M. Mallikarjun Kharge, the former Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, and the relative newcomers to electoral politics, including Basavaraj Bhimalli, president of the Hyderabad Karnataka Education Society, throwing their hats in the ring.

While Mr. Kharge will test his popularity on a new turf in Chitapur (reserved) Assembly constituency, Mr. Dharam Singh will contest for the ninth time from his traditional Jewargi Assembly constituency. Mr. Basavaraj Bhimalli is for the first time contesting in an election on the Congress ticket from Gulbarga South Assembly segment.

Another interesting factor is that a former president of the society and the incumbent vice-president along with the president of the Hyderabad Karnataka Education Society, which runs a chain of educational institutions in the region, are in the fray.

Apart from Mr. Basavaraj Bhimalli, the society’s vice-president, B.G. Patil, and the former society president, B.G. Jawali, a three-time MP, will be fighting the elections on the BJP ticket from Gulbarga North and Aland Assembly constituencies, respectively.

Mr. Patil, an industrialist, contested as a Kannada Nadu candidate from Chitapur Assembly constituency in 2004 and finished fourth.

This time, he has secured a BJP ticket for the Gulbarga North Assembly seat. While Mr. Kharge appears to have chosen a safe seat with brittle opposition, the contest will be a close one in Jewargi where Mr. Dharam Singh will file his nomination papers on Wednesday.

However, the three candidates who have close relations with the Hyderabad Karnataka Education Society face an uphill task before touching the winning post. Mr. Bhimalli is pitted against a formidable Chandrasekhar Patil Revoor, who represented the now divided Gulbarga Assembly seat, in the Gulbarga South constituency.

The Janata Dal (S) is likely to field another tough candidate S.K. Kanta in the constituency.

Dr. Jawali, who is contesting an Assembly election for the first time, faces two tough rivals, the former MLA, B.R. Patil, and two-time former MLA, Subash Guttedar, who is a Janata Dal (S) candidate. Although Dr. Jawali has represented Gulbarga in the Lok Sabha for three terms, the Assembly elections would be an altogether a different cup of tea.

Dr. Jawali would have to sweat it out to make any impact in the elections if not winning against the two seasoned campaigners.

Similarly, Mr. Patil takes on the former Minister, Qamar-ul-Islam, who is likely to be the party candidate in Gulbarga South. The Janata Dal (S) is yet to announce its candidate.

This election will also miss a colourful personality and former vice-chancellor Vaijnath Patil who could not contest from his traditional Chincholi Assembly constituency which was reserved for Scheduled Castes in the delimitation exercise.

His effort to gain the Congress ticket for Gulbarga South failed with the party opting for Mr. Basavaraj Bhimalli.

Though a sulking Mr. Vaijnath Patil has withdrawn into a shell after the setback, he is expected to play a significant role in the fortunes of the party candidates in Chincholi, some of the constituencies in Bidar district and the Gulbarga South constituency.