Battleground | Karnataka 2018

It’s an unpredictable fight in Bidar South, Karnataka

Bidar South shot into limelight after the foreign-educated millionaire businessman Ashok Kheny decided to contest the 2013 Assembly elections here. He won as a nominee of the Karnataka Makkala Paksha in 2013, but is now contesting as a Congress candidate.

He is the managing director of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE), which is building the controversial infrastructure corridor between Bengaluru and Mysuru. The Karnataka government is yet to act on a legislature committee report that looked into allegations that NICE got more land than required and underpaid farmers whose lands were acquired. His induction into the Congress drew severe criticism in the light of this report.

Mr. Kheny hails from a family of traditional moneylenders and landowners at Ranjol Kheni village in Bidar taluk.

He left home early, only to come back when he was in his late 50s. After his education and early success as an entrepreneur in the U.S., he returned to Bidar in 2006. There was also the strong Lingayat push behind his success.

In 2013, his supporters built his image as an ultra-rich son of the soil who had returned to serve his people. His victory seemed easy, but this time the battle seems tougher. He has no one to blame except the expectations he created in the minds of the people five years ago. Besides local issues, he had promised to promote industrialisation in the constituency and create jobs.

He is pitted against his traditional political rivals, former Minister Bandeppa Kashempur of the Janata Dal(S) and BJP district president Shailendra Beldale.

Mr. Kashempur, a former Minister in the JD(S)-BJP government, is a Kuruba leader with a significant following. He represented Bidar in 2004 and Bidar South constituency in 2008.

Dr. Beldale, a former zilla panchayat member and a contractor, is considered close to B.S. Yeddyurappa.

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 10:34:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/karnataka-2018/its-an-unpredictable-fight-in-bidar-south-karnataka/article23675153.ece

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