T.V. Sivanandan

Congress candidate Allamprabhu Patil is leaving no stone unturned to retain seat for the party

Congress rebel Thippannappa Kamakanur is contesting the polls

BJP hopes he can spoil chances of a Congress victory

GULBARGA: The stakes are high for the Congress in the elections to the Legislative Council from the local authorities constituency in Gulbarga district. The party candidate, Allamprabhu Patil, a former president of the zilla panchayat, is leaving no stone unturned to retain the seat for the party.

The Congress won the seat in the previous two elections and, on paper, appears to be on a safe wicket this time mainly due to the electoral pact with the Janata Dal (Secular), which has considerable clout in the local bodies.

The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP), which has fielded Subash Biradar, is pinning its hopes on the damage Congress rebel candidate Thippannappa Kamakanur can create. Mr. Kamakanur, a former member of the Backward Classes Commission and former Deputy Mayor of Gulbarga, who started the campaign as an underdog, has emerged as a major thorn in the flesh of the Congress.

The main worry now for the party is that its candidate, Mr. Patil, should win the elections in the first round itself.

Although the Congress-Janata Dal (S) combine has become a formidable force in the local bodies, with a majority of the taluk panchayats, town municipal councils, town panchayats, city municipal councils and the Gulbarga City Corporation being under the control of either one of the parties, the gram panchayats, which have a total membership of 5,866, is a major cause for concern.

The BJP, which has very little presence in the local bodies, is banking entirely on the gram panchayat votes and on Mr. Kamakanur. “Every vote secured by Mr. Kamakanur is a plus for the BJP. Those voting for him may naturally choose the BJP candidate as the second preference, as the Congress for them is out of favour,” a senior BJP leader who did not want to be named told The Hindu.

Congress confident

The Congress, on the other hand, seems confident that Mr. Kamakanur will not be able to do much damage to the party’s victory prospects. A senior party leader said that they were not intimidated by his campaign, despite it being caste-based, as “the people are wise enough to know what they want”. The total number of voters in the local bodies’ constituency in the district is 6,528, which includes 5,866 gram panchayat members, 235 taluk panchayat members, 133 town municipal council members, 81 town panchayat members, 67 city municipal council members, 64 zilla panchayat members, 58 city corporation members, 13 MLAs, two MPs and two MLCs.

The elections will be held on December 18.