Raichur Lok Sabha constituency: It is a battle between a ‘raja’ and a former public servant in Raichur

Raichur Lok Sabha constituency sees interesting battle between Congress and BJP candidates, with rebellion and promises shaping the race.

April 30, 2024 09:29 pm | Updated May 01, 2024 03:49 pm IST - KALABURAGI

Raja Amareshwar Naik, BJP candidate

Raja Amareshwar Naik, BJP candidate | Photo Credit:

The electoral battle in the Raichur Lok Sabha constituency this time is interesting with a new entrant — G. Kumar Naik, who is a former civil servant — being pitted as the Congress candidate against incumbent MP and scion of the erstwhile Guntagol royal family Raja Amareshwar Naik for the second term. Mr. Kumar Naik, a 1990-batch IAS officer, had served as the Deputy Commissioner of Raichur between 1999 and 2002, before assuming higher offices in bureaucracy.

Rebellion within

The biggest concern for Mr. Amareshwar Naik is the rebellion from his own party workers after B.V. Naik, one of the strong contestants for the BJP ticket, raised a banner of revolt after he was denied the ticket. Mr. B.V. Naik, earlier with the Congress, won the 2014 Lok Sabha election in Raichur and lost the 2019 election against Mr. Amareshwar Naik. He left the Congress and joined the BJP last year to unsuccessfully contest in the Manvi Assembly segment. This time he was hoping to get the party ticket to contest the Lok Sabha election from Raichur, but was denied it.

Though BJP’s Karnataka in-charge Radha Mohan Das Agarwal met the disgruntled leader and tried to placate him, the anger among Mr. B.V. Naik’s supporters has not died down, making the going tough for Mr. Amareshwar Naik. Also, Mr. Kumar Naik has maintained close ties with Mr. B.V. Naik and his family for over thirty years now.

The BJP and its candidate are heavily dependent on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and the influence of the Surpur and Guntagol “royalty” in some Assembly segments. But many say that both these factors have dimmed over the years, with the “inaccessibility” of Mr. Amareshwar Naik being an issue.

Losing out on IIT

People in urban areas, especially Raichur, are quite upset with the BJP for denying the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to the district. There is a strong opinion that the IIT was sanctioned to Hubballi-Dharwad just to satisfy BJP leaders there. Activists and organisations who had unsuccessfully agitated for the IIT are now demanding an AIIMS for the city and the Union government has remained silent even after the Karnataka government’s recommendation to set up the premier health institution in Raichur.

G. Kumar Naik, Congress candidate

G. Kumar Naik, Congress candidate | Photo Credit:

On the other hand, Mr. Kumar Naik is mainly riding on the State government’s five guarantees and his party’s fresh promises for the Lok Sabha elections, especially the financial assistance of ₹1 lakh a year to women heads of families. Since women are the main beneficiaries of the guarantee schemes, the Congress hopes that it would play a role in tilting the balance in this constituency where women voters outnumber men.

Promise of reservoir

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announcing in his Budget speech the construction of a balancing reservoir at Navale in Koppal district can also help the Congress mobilise votes in the rural areas along the Tungabhadra Left Bank Canal that irrigates large tracts of land in the district. The proposed reservoir is widely seen as a solution to the diminished storage capacity of the Tungabhadra reservoir owing to the accumulation of over 30 tmcft silt.

The BJP is branding the Congress candidate as an “outsider”, while Mr. Kumar Naik is countering it by showing the development work he had done for Raichur as its Deputy Commissioner. Minor Irrigation Minister N. Bose Raju and his son Ravi Bose Raju are also working to boost Mr. Kumar Naik’s prospects. However, there is a section of leaders and activists opposed to Mr. Bose Raju and neglecting this aspect may be risky for Mr. Kumar Naik.

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