Staff Correspondent

Sambhaji Patil of the Congress belongs to Maratha community

BJP leader Abhaykumar Patil is a Jain

Belgaum: It’s caste arithmetic that will play a decisive role in elections to the Belgaum South Assembly Constituency.

The new constituency formed after the delimitation exercise has its jurisdiction over parts of Belgaum taluk, Belgaum Circle and the Belgaum City Corporation.

The area’s population includes people of all castes. The electorate comprises 1,80,034 voters and has a high percentage of Marathas.

Maratha voters constitute approximately 50,000 people followed by Jains (21,000); Lingayats (16,000); Scheduled Castes (15,000); Scheduled Tribes (5000); Devang (15,000); Brahmins (10,000); Marwari (7,000); Konkani (6,000), and Kurbar (5000).

The rest belong to caste groups such as Savaji (Kshatriya) and Hanbar.

The winning prospects of all the three major contestants — Sambhaji Laxman Patil of the Congress, Abhaykumar Patil of the BJP and Kiran Krishnarao Sayanak (Independent) — depends on how these major caste groups would cast their ballot.

The four-time Mayor Mr. Sambhaji Patil belonging to the Maratha community is a seasoned politician and now floor leader of the ruling Sarvabhashik Samvichar Vikas Vedike. He had contested unsuccessfully on Congress ticket from the erstwhile Uchagaon (now part of Belgaum Rural segment) in the 2004 elections and was second runner-up then.

The young BJP leader Mr. Abhaykumar Patil, a Jain, was elected for the first time from the earlier Bagewadi in 2004.

Mr. Sayanak is nephew of three-time MLA the late B.B. Sayanak and a force to reckon with.

The constituency is dominated by a large number of powerloom weavers but majority of them are living in squalor. They have been victims of exploitation by loom owners, middlemen and private money-lenders.

The success of any candidate in this constituency will largely depend on the weavers’ votes.

Although all the three contestants largely depend on support from their respective caste groups, it is Mr. Sambhaji Patil who has a strong influence on all castes, mainly Marathas, Muslims, SCs, STs, and Kurbar.

Mr. Abhaykumar Patil favoured the Belgaum South seat considering the presence of Jains and traditional BJP voters there.

Mr. Sayanak’s support base is Maratha voters who are in highest numbers in the constituency. But his prospects have become dim due to the presence of MES rebel Deepak Dalvi.

Sources in the MES do not rule out the fact that Mr. Dalvi is keen to settle scores with Mr. Thakur for ignoring his candidature.

It was during Mr. Sambaji Patil’s mayoral term that the plan for modernisation of drinking water supply for Belgaum city was conceived.

Mr. Abhaykumar Patil has contributed to the development of villages in the erstwhile Bagewadi constituency by setting up “model villages.”