Chitradurga Lok Sabha constituency: Poll debates amp up the heat in this arid region of drying coconut palms and areca plantations

Intense political debates and caste dynamics shape the Chitradurga Lok Sabha constituency election scenario.

Updated - April 18, 2024 11:58 am IST

Published - April 17, 2024 10:13 pm IST - Chitradurga

B.N. Chandrappa, Congress candidate

B.N. Chandrappa, Congress candidate | Photo Credit:

In the sweltering heat of summer in this arid region of Central Karnataka, there is hardly any sight of agricultural activity as drought has grounded farmers.

Amidst meagre work opportunities and race against time to save their coconut and areca plantations, farmers are involved in intense political debates, sometimes leading to skirmishes. Former BJP Minister Govind Karjol, with the “Modi factor and NDA government’s achievement”, is taking on former MP B.N. Chandrappa of Congress, who is banking on the guarantees, in the Chitradurga Lok Sabha (SC reserved) constituency.

The BJP replaced incumbent MP and Union Minister A. Narayanswamy in the constituency which is known to not repeat its Member of Parliament, though J. Mohammed Imam and C.P. Moodalgiriyappa won twice, but not consecutively.

‘Outsider’ factor

The Congress is projecting the BJP candidate Govind Karjol, a native of Bagalkot, as an “outsider”. Dhananjaya, a resident of Tirumalapura village in Holalkere pointed out, “Outsiders have been our bane, whichever party they represent. Mr. Narayanaswamy is from Anekal. Previous MPs P. Kodandaramaiah, Shashi Kumar and C.P. Moodalagiriyappa were also outsiders. Congress candidate B.N. Chandrappa himself is from Moodigere in Chikkamagaluru.”

However, Mr. Chandrappa is being seen sympathetically as he is accessible and has responded to local issues in his previous term, he said. Incidentally, in the run up to the elections, Mr. Chandrappa also faced opposition to his candidature from Congress leaders and workers who sought to field a local candidate.

“Mr. Chandrappa has remained connected with the people despite his defeat. Though Mr. Karjol was a Minister, he is not known much and there is fear of inaccessibility. But Chitradruga has different voting pattern between Assembly and Parliamentary polls,” said S. Srinivas, a resident of Chitradurga. Talking of local issues that residents want resolved, he said, “The Tumakuru-Davengere railway link via Chitradurga will not only connect the fort town to various places, but will bring in travel time. The Upper Bhadra project will be a much-needed relief. Sadly, both are languishing and are not being spoken about in the election.”

Some realignments

After some political realignments in Chitradurga constituency over the last year, the election arena is getting interesting. While former BJP legislator from Hiriyur Poornima Srinivas joined Congress, former Minister representing Hosadurga, Goolihatti Shekar, has distanced himself from the BJP. The Holalkere BJP legislator M. Chandrappa, who was initially upset at his son not being nominated for the Lok Sabha seat, seems to have come around and campaigning for BJP.  

Govind Karjol, BJP candidate

Govind Karjol, BJP candidate | Photo Credit:

The political contours are also being drawn on caste lines in Chitradurga Parliamentary constituency where the Scheduled Castes (left), Muslims, Veerashiava-Lingayats, Vokkaligas, Gollas, Nayakas and Lambanis along with Minor Backward Classes (MBCs) are considered politically important for their numerical strength. With the SC (left) forming the single largest bloc, both parties have nominated their candidates from the SC-left.

Women voters

Currently, of the eight Assembly constituencies barring Holalkere that is represented by BJP, the Congress has won Sira and Pavagada (in Tumakuru district), Hosadurga, Hiriyur, Challakere, Chitradurga and Molakalmuru in Chitradurga district. With the guarantee schemes, Congress is hoping to win over the electorate, especially women. Chitradurga is among the 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in State where women voters are high in number.

The BJP is hoping to make use of the alliance with Janata Dal (Secular) that has a good presence in Sira, Hiriyur, Pavagada and Challakere though not all local JD(S) workers are happy. “Last time, we campaigned for the Congress candidate though we were not sure. This time, we have been asked to campaign for BJP. Though many are going for joint campaign, some have abstained,” Narasinga Rao, a long time JD(S) worker at Vani Vilas Pura in Hiriyur said.

However, Rajanna, a JD(S) worker from Melukunte, near Sira in Tumakuru, said that though they have been beneficiaries of guarantee schemes, they are working for the BJP since his party is in alliance.

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