Koppal Lok Sabha constituency: Claims over development of Anjanadri becomes part of electoral narrative

Amid the Congress’ guarantee schemes challenging the BJP’s “Modi development” narrative that has now morphed into Hindutva, the Koppal Lok Sabha constituency is poised for a close finish.

Updated - May 06, 2024 12:04 pm IST

Published - May 03, 2024 09:01 pm IST - Bengaluru

K. Rajashekar Hitnal, Congress candidate for the Koppal Lok Sabha seat.

K. Rajashekar Hitnal, Congress candidate for the Koppal Lok Sabha seat. | Photo Credit:

With the third phase of parliamentary elections around the corner, Anjanadri, believed by the devout to be the birthplace of Hanuman, has come into the election focus in Koppal. Amid the Congress’ guarantee schemes challenging the BJP’s “Modi development” narrative that has now morphed into Hindutva, the Koppal Lok Sabha constituency is poised for a close finish.

Spread across Koppal, Raichur, and Ballari districts, the Koppal Lok Sabha constituency has a mix of large tracts of dry and arid region and the irrigated parts of Gangavati and Sindhanur areas which have been affected differently by the drought this year. Basavaraj Kyavator, an orthopaedic surgeon, who replaced incumbent MP Karadi Sanganna as the BJP candidate, is taking on Congress’ K. Rajashekar Hitnal, who had earlier lost to Mr. Sanganna in the 2019 parliamentary polls.

The election campaign by the candidates which appeared mostly scripted — similar to many other constituencies that have witnessed “Modi agenda” versus the “benefits of the guarantee schemes” — has over the last few days veered towards Anjanadri, with both camps turning their attention to the development of the hillock along the Tungabhadra.

Basavaraj Kyavator, BJP candidate for the Koppal Lok Sabha seat.

Basavaraj Kyavator, BJP candidate for the Koppal Lok Sabha seat. | Photo Credit:

While the BJP — invoking the consecration of the Ram temple at Ayodhya recently — has been claiming credit for releasing ₹100 crore towards the development of Anjanadri, the Congress has been pointing out that only ₹22 crore has been released so far and the Congress government has also earmarked ₹100 crore for the pilgrimage centre’s development. The Congress has also questioned the sole claim of the BJP over Lord Hanuman.

Issues that do not figure

On the other hand, the enormous delay in the Upper Krishna Project-II that would irrigate large tracts of rain-fed area in the otherwise dry Koppal district or meagre employment opportunity that triggers migration from Kanakagiri, Kushtagi, and Yelburga or other local issues do not figure in the campaign. The drought-triggered crisis this year is also not an issue being touched upon locally. Migration happens every year since the wages locally are very low and employment opportunities are limited. This year, due to drought, it has only increased.

The Congress, with six legislators in the parliamentary constituency, is hoping to wrest the seat from the BJP that has won here since 2009. Mr. Sanganna, the two-time BJP MP, who had defeated Mr. Rajashekar Hitnal by a slender margin of about 37,000 votes in 2019, and defeated Mr. Rajashekar’s father, Basavaraj Hitnal, by about 33,000 votes in 2014, has switched sides. The Congress hopes that his entry to the party will enable the division of Veerashaiva-Lingayat votes to favour the party’s fortune. Incidentally, over the last three decades, the constituency witnessed electoral battles between the Hitnal family and the Sanganna family, and the feud looks to be buried now. Their battle was on the caste lines with the Veerashaiava-Lingayats backing their community leader Mr. Sanganna and Kurubas sticking with the Hitnals. Mr. Rajashekar Hitnal’s brother Raghavendra Hitnal is the Congress legislator from Koppal.

However, the BJP is hoping to retain the seat since it has replaced Mr. Sanganna with Dr. Kyavator, who is also a Panchamasali Lingayat like the former. Though Mr. Kyavator is seen as a rookie, he comes from a family of politicians. His father K. Sharanappa is a former Janata Dal (Secular) legislator from Kushtagi while his brother is a former zilla panchayat member.

Impact of Reddy’s return

While Gangavati legislator G. Janardhana Reddy has returned to the BJP fold by merging his Karnataka Rajya Pragathi Paksha, it is not expected to help the BJP much as he had been supported by Muslims too in the Assembly elections, and their votes will not be transferred to the BJP now. “The Muslims expected Mr. Reddy to join the Congress and he had also supported the the Congress during the Rajya Sabha elections. However, they are unhappy after he re-joined the BJP,” a political observer pointed out. Mr. Reddy had also promised to develop Anjanadri from his personal funds, which has not been taken up, upsetting many Hindus.

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