BJP, JD(S) candidates likely to give him a tough fight
Shamanur Shivashankarappa, veteran Congress leader and president of the All-India Veerashiva Mahasabha, faces a triangular contest this time. The presence of B. Lokesh, Bharatiya Janata Party candidate, and Syed Saifullah, Janata Dal (Secular) candidate and minorities leader, has shattered Mr. Shivashankarappa’s hope of an easy victory. Both leaders are likely to get a major chunk of their caste votes. The candidate who manages to secure the full support of his caste is likely to emerge victorious in the May 5 polls.
Mr. Saifullah was a member of the Congress till recently. He was given the party ticket in the 2008 Assembly elections, but was pressured to hand over the ‘B’ form to S.S. Mallikarjun. He was an aspirant for Davangere South, which has a sizeable Muslim population, but the Congress gave the ticket to Mr. Shivashankarappa instead, and Mr. Saifullah joined the JD(S).
Davangere South has over 55,000 Muslims, who constitute nearly 32 per cent of the total votes. Leaders of the community had demanded all political parties on many occasions to give the party ticket to a Muslim candidate. However, only the JD(S) conceded their demand. Mr. Saifullah was instrumental in setting up an educational institution in the old Davangere area and a cooperative bank. Most Muslims have extended their support to the JD(S) candidate, and if the entire community rallies behind Mr. Saifullah, he stands a good chance of victory.
Mr. Lokesh is the grandson of the former Chief Minister S. Nijalingappa and also a former Deputy Mayor. He is a Banajiga Lingayat, over 38,000 in the constituency.
The community was neglected by the Congress while distributing ticket, and as a result Mr. Lokesh stands to gain their support. He also has Yashwanth Rao Jadhav, chairman of the Davangere Urban Development Authority, on his side.
Also in the fray is the Karnataka Janata Paksha candidate and Kuruba leader, B.M. Sathish, who is banking on the votes of his community. There are over 27,000 members of the community in the region.