Lok Sabha Election

The heat is on in Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat with two Lingayats in the fray

Chikkodi attracted State-wide attention recently when the Katti brothers — BJP leaders with considerable clout in some Assembly segments in this constituency — were upset with the party high command choosing Annasaheb Jolle over Ramesh Katti to take on Prakash Hukkeri, incumbent MP of the Congress. BJP State unit president B.S. Yeddyurappa had to air-dash to Belagavi to console them.

Chikkodi was considered ‘the seat of power in north Karnataka’ as it sent B. Shankaranand, former Union Minister for Petroleum, to Parliament seven times in a row, from 1967 to 1996. Mr. Shankaranand was considered a close confidant of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Ramesh Jigajinagi, the present MP from Vijayapura, who is also a Union Minister, was elected to Parliament from Chikkodi three times on different party ticket. Of the 16 general elections held till now, the Congress has won 11 times, the BJP twice, and the Janata Dal (United), Lok Shakti and Janata Dal once each. The BJP won for the first time in 2004 and in 2014 lost by as narrow a margin as 3,003 votes.

As campaigning picks up in the constituency, the disinterest shown by the Katti brothers could benefit Mr. Hukkeri, at least marginally.

“Over decades, Mr. Hukkeri has built up his image carefully, as a leader who is approachable and who helps people irrespective of their party affiliations. He has nurtured Chikkodi and prepared it to be the headquarters of a new district by shifting vital government offices there. He is known to avoid controversies and does not speak ill of his opponents.

This had helped him against the Katti brothers, who are considered strongmen. On the other hand, Mr. Jolle is also considered polite and soft-spoken. Branches of the cooperative societies that he founded are spread across Belagavi and some districts in Maharashtra. His family trust runs a school for the differently-abled, and supports women’s self-help groups. The BJP may gain a few points with young voters due to its campaigns focusing on nationalist issues,” said an observer. “Mr. Jolle has lost two Assembly elections in the past — once against Mr. Hukkeri and the other to his son, Ganesh Hukkeri. Voters will keep this in mind when they come out to vote,” said a resident of Chikkodi. At the same time, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, who has never campaigned for the party nominee in Chikkodi, came to the city and met RSS volunteers and BJP workers, as Mr. Jolle is seen as a RSS favourite.

Rajya Sabha member Prabhakar Kore, a long-time rival of Mr. Hukkeri, is actively engaged in Mr. Jolle’s campaign.

Caste matrix

The constituency has a significant population of Lingayats and Marathas, who hold sway over voters of other communities owing to their social and economic clout.

There are also a considerable number of Kuruba, Muslim, and SC/ST population. However, the caste factor may not be significant in these elections as both Mr. Hukkeri and Mr. Jolle are Lingayats.

Most Lingayats are known to lean towards the BJP, and this might help Mr. Jolle.

But, the unconditional appeal for the saffron party may reduce somewhat with the rival party also fielding a Lingayat, a resident of Chikkodi observed.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 8:38:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/the-heat-is-on-in-chikkodi-lok-sabha-seat-with-two-lingayats-in-the-fray/article26824570.ece

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