Lok Sabha Election 2019

Sons of two former CMs lock horns in Shivamogga

But when it’s not a triangular contest, the BJP will have to keep an eye on its shrinking margin of victory

When the sons of two former Chief Ministers lock horns, an intense and interesting electoral fight is inevitable.

For the Shivamogga parliamentary seat, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded B.Y. Raghavendra, sitting MP. He is the son of B.S. Yeddyurappa, president of the party’s State unit and a former Chief Minister. Shivamogga is Mr. Yeddyurappa’s home turf and the BJP’s victory here is a matter of prestige for him.

Sons of two former CMs lock horns in Shivamogga

The Congress, on the other hand, is backing Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) candidate Madhu Bangarappa, also the son of a former Chief Minister, the late S. Bangarappa, who was known to have a large support base among the Backward Classes and minorities.

Robust network

The BJP’s success in the 2018 Assembly election, where it won seven out of the eight Assembly segments that fall under the Shivamogga parliamentary constituency — the Congress was able to win only one — can be attributed to its robust organisational network and strong booth-level cadre-base that the party has developed in the Malnad region over the years.

In fact, the saffron party had activated its strong and well-oiled campaign machinery weeks before the official declaration of the forthcoming Lok Sabha election. It held rallies to connect with voters and highlight problems faced by farmers, including claims for land grants that were rejected under the Forest Rights Act. In the run-up to the announcement, the party also organised cricket and kabaddi tournaments across the district under the slogan ‘Modi mathomme’ (Modi once more) for Narendra Modi’s re-election as Prime Minister. The party appears confident that the ‘Modi wave’ will swing young voters in its favour. It is also highlighting infrastructure upgrade projects implemented in the district during Mr. Yeddyurappa’s tenure as Chief Minister.

Margin shrinks

Nonetheless, the BJP cannot hope for an easy victory in Shivamogga because whenever the Congress and JD(S) have contested together in the past, as they are going to this time, the BJP has faced a tougher fight.

Sons of two former CMs lock horns in Shivamogga

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections triangular fight for the seat, Mr. Yeddyurappa won by a whopping margin of more than 3.6 lakh votes. But in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, when the late S. Bangarappa contested as the Congress candidate with the support of the JD(S), and in October-November 2018 byelection for the Shivamogga parliamentary seat, when Mr. Madhu Bangarappa opposed the BJP’s Mr. Raghavendra as the JD(S) candidate with the backing of Congress, the BJP’s margin of victory was only around 52,000 votes. The byelection was necessitated when Mr. Yeddyurappa tendered his resignation following his election from Shikaripur Assembly segment.

Mr. Madhu Bangarappa has pegged his hopes on these figures — he is optimistic that if the Congress’ votes are entirely transferred to him, he could win.

He maintains that the decline in the BJP’s margin of victory — when the results of the recent byelection are compared with the 2014 Lok Sabha election — proves that Mr. Yeddyurappa no longer holds sway over Shivamogga’s voters.

Whirlwind tour

Since the election was announced, Mr. Madhu Bangarappa has been on a whirlwind tour of the constituency.

Local Congress leaders, including former Ministers Kagodu Thimmappa and Kimmane Rathnakar, are also campaigning for him enthusiastically.

But the camaraderie among the coalition’s top-rung leaders is yet to percolate to the grassroots.

The responsibility of ironing out the differences between the Congress and JD(S) cadre, who are still fresh from their fight against each other in the recent byelections, particularly in Bhadravati and Tirthahalli, has been left to to D.K. Shivakumar, Minister for Water Resources, known in the State’s political circles as a master strategist.

Major campaign planks for Mr. Madhu Bangarappa are the JD(S)-Congress combine’s promise to implement the Hosahalli, Puradakere, Mugur, and Mudi-Kuneteppa lift irrigation projects so that water reaches the parched, semi-arid areas of Shivamogga, Shikaripur and Sorab taluks, and a crop loan waiver scheme.

Mr. Madhu Bangarappa notes that he was left with only 13 days for his Assembly byelection campaign, since his candidature was announced on the last day of filing the nomination for it.

“By campaigning for a short span of time, I could give tough fight to BJP [in the byelection]. I have ample time to reach the voters this time,” said the JD(S) candidate, who is invoking the name of his late father in his campaign meetings.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 4:30:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/sons-of-two-former-cms-lock-horns-in-shivamogga/article26742101.ece

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