T.V. Sivanandan

He is the Hyderabad Karnataka Education Society president

Chandrashekar Patil Revoor is the BJP candidate

S.K. Kanta making a determined bid

GULBARGA: The battle for the ballot in Gulbarga South Assembly Constituency is turning out to be a close affair between the Congress candidate and Hyderabad Karnataka Education Society president Basavaraj Bhimalli, former Minister and trade union leader S.K. Kanta of the Janata Dal (Secular) and the former MLA Chandrasekhar Patil Revoor.

If Mr. Bhimalli is contesting in the Assembly election for the first time, for Mr. Kanta this would be the seventh election, including a byelection in 1996, with a break in 2004 and for Mr. Chandrasekhar Patil Revoor this would be the third election in a row as a BJP candidate.

Mr. Kanta and Mr. Revoor had contested from the Gulbarga City Assembly Constituency, which has been split into two Assembly segments in the delimitation process.

Mr. Revoor, who helped the BJP to open its account in Gulbarga City Assembly Constituency for the first time in 2004, defeated the former Minister Qamar-ul-Islam in a multi-cornered contest in the absence of Mr. Kanta and is now facing Mr. Kanta and Mr. Bhimalli as his main rivals this time.

Although Mr. Bhimalli, who had tried in vain to get the party ticket for the Gulbarga Lok Sabha seat earlier, is an old timer in the Congress holding different positions in the party, fighting elections is a new venture and with his never say die attitude and intense door to door campaign is giving sleepless nights to his opponents.

Mr. Bhimalli enjoys a clean image and and his philanthropic activities have won him many admirers. Heading a well-known education society which runs a chain of educational institutions is another advantage for Mr. Bhimalli.

Mr. Kanta, who started from a scratch in this election, is making a determined bid to enter the Assembly after 19 years after winning the Gulbarga city seat twice in 1983 and 1985 elections, lost the seat to Mr. Qamar-ul-Islam in 1989 elections and since then all his attempts to enter the Assembly failed.

A trade unionist who never hesitated to take up the cause of the common man, is a popular leader among the voters. His presence has sent shivers down the spine of the BJP campaign managers in Gulbarga South Constituency.

While Mr. Kanta and Mr. Revoor say that the contest was between them and Mr. Bhimalli was not in the picture, the ground reality is something different with the contest going triangular way with Mr. Bhimalli spending some extra mile to reach out to all voters.

Mr. Bhimalli has the support of KPCC president M. Mallikarjun Kharge and the former Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh.

The Congress, which rules the Gulbarga City Corporation, has been making an all-out bid to ensure the victory of Mr. Bhimalli in the constituency dominated by Lingayats, Dalits and Muslims.