Karnataka

A rich candidate pitted against ‘self-respect’

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Poll battle has been made interesting with JD(S) supporting the Independent candidate

The richest candidate in the fray is fighting to retain his seat against a rebel who has raised the banner of “self-respect” at Hoskote.

With declared assets close to ₹1,200 crore, N. Nagaraju (MTB), a three-time legislator whose resignation and later disqualification has led to bypolls in this constituency, is involved in a tough three-way contest against BJP rebel Sharath Bache Gowda and Congress nominee Padmavathi Suresh, wife of Hebbal legislator Byrathi Suresh.

A constituency that is known for industries and milk production, Hoskote has always been keenly contested and has often witnessed political bloodshed. The U.S.-educated Mr. Sharath, a third generation politician in his family, has rebelled against the party citing “self-respect”, much to the embarrassment of the BJP leadership that failed to convince him to withdraw.

The party had even warned Mr. Sharath’s father and BJP MP from Chickballapur B.N. Bache Gowda, who has represented the constituency five times, of action if he failed to convince his son.

Interestingly, the BJP nominee Mr. Nagaraju has repeatedly accused his sworn political rival — the senior Bache Gowda of land grabbing and hooliganism during his election speech, leaving many a BJP local workers and leaders confused. The Bache Gowda family and Mr. Nagaraju have had running political feud for over two decades. So far, Mr. Bache Gowda has kept away from the constituency.

The poll battle has been made interesting also with the Janata Dal (Secular) decision to support Mr. Sharath in a bid to consolidate Vokkaliga votes, who constitute a large chunk. While both the BJP and Congress candidates are expected to split the Kuruba votes that is believed to be crucial in any victory, it would be interesting to see how former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah could swing those votes to Congress.

Involved in a bitter verbal duel with Mr. Siddaramaiah, the BJP candidate Mr. Nagaraju has been seeking votes on the developments he brought to the constituency in the past. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has promised metro connectivity and Cauvery water to the constituency. Congress has campaigned seriously for its nominee with senior leaders, including Mr. Siddaramaiah and former Minister D.K. Shivakumar, making multiple rounds and raising the issue of disqualification and back-stabbing of Congress by Mr. Nagaraju.

The 37-year-old former employee of transport technology major Alstom, Mr. Sharath has been appealing to the youth over issues of employment, promise to set up skill development centre and raising the issues of lack of new industries coming to the constituency and self-respect.

With a pressure cooker being his election symbol, he has been able to connect to the women in the constituency too. When a BJP leader recently asked the voters to “burst the cooker” in elections, the young rebel retorted by telling the women to “use the cooker for cooking and I will be the whistle,” in an apparent reference to remain the voice of the voter.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 11:50:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-rich-candidate-pitted-against-self-respect/article30152723.ece

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