: Are management principles that ensure success in business useful in politics? Does a successful businessman make a successful politician? These questions are being raised in the Bidar South Assembly constituency where infrastructure entrepreneur Ashok Kheny is taking on seasoned politician Bandeppa Kashempur of the Janata Dal (Secular) in the May 5 elections.

“You can’t win elections with money alone. If that were true, all the big businessmen and industrialists would have been ruling us,” says Bakkappa Channappa of Kamthana village. “What you need is a team of dedicated party workers, and Mr. Kheny lacks it. Those going around with him now are not his followers or his party workers. They are there only because of his money,” he said.

When Mr. Ashok Kheny’s cousin Sanjay Kheny contested as a BJP nominee from Bidar South, he had the party’s backing.

Its network of party workers campaigned hard and visited every home in the constituency.

However, Mr. Kheny is contesting from the Karnataka Makkala Paksha. It needs to work at building up a base,” says Shankar Rathod while chatting with his friends at a temple in Kadwad. He points out that the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Abdul Mannan Seth has a dedicated cadre, while nominees of the other major parties have the advantage of experienced workers in most villages.

Some voters say political experience is crucial. Candidates like the KJP’s Shailendra Beldale and Meenakshi Sangram of the Congress are seasoned politicians as they have served as zilla panchayat members, and so is Mr. Kashempur.

These candidates have been touring the constituency for over a year now. They have been organising women’s groups and labourers. But Mr. Kheny’s is a late entrant to the campaign. Though Mr. Kheny announced in October that he would contest the elections, he did not start campaigning till the polls were announced and he decided to contest as a KMP candidate, remarked Basavaraj Biradar of Bidar.

Mr. Kheny’s supporters, however, feel he will sail through. “He has a family legacy that everyone is proud of. He has helped farmers like us who lost lands for the Karanja irrigation project. He has offered to resign in two years if he does not succeed in developing the constituency. All this is getting him support among the voters. A band of young party workers has started working for him from the first day of campaign,” says Suryakanth Patil, who is campaigning for Mr. Kheny.

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