District formation is the big ticket agenda here

A proposal on the formation of Vijayanagara district by carving out six taluks from Ballari may have been put on hold for the time being, but the issue is very much at play in the run-up to the bypolls in Vijayanagara constituency.

For B.S. Anand Singh, the disqualified MLA who is now the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate here, the bifurcation of Ballari to form the new district remains an important plank.

In fact the resurgence of the issue ahead of bypolls is widely viewed as a well-designed strategy of the BJP to help Mr. Anand Singh, who was “discredited” owing to his defection.

With the new and promising issue at hand, Mr. Anand Singh has set aside, what he earlier said was, the reason for his resignation to Assembly membership — the State government’s decision to sell 3,677 acres in Ballari to Jindal South West Holding Ltd. (JSW Steel) – and has been talking only of the new issue.

He is keen to convince voters that his efforts to form a new district has only had a “temporary setback.”

Having been the MLA for the same constituency in the last three terms, Mr. Anand Singh has also developed a well-formed network among the people, particularly the youth, which is his strength.

The contest of BJP rebel candidate Kaviraj Urs, now expelled from the party, is expected to be only a minor obstacle.

The Congress, the principal rival, is in a dismal state at present. Its candidate, Venkatarao Ghorpade, who hails from the Ghorpade royal family, is well respected, but that may not take him very far, given the way elections are fought and won.

Moreover, Mr. Ghorpade appears to have been left alone to take on the mighty rival with little support from the party.

In contrast, the BJP has named its State general secretary N. Ravikumar, who played an instrumental role in rallying the party behind Umesh Jadhav and ensured his victory against Congress heavyweight M. Mallikarjun Kharge in Kalaburagi in the last Lok Sabha elections, to take care of this constituency.

Keeping an eye on the Nayaka community votes, the BJP has also employed MLA for Shorapur Narasimha Nayak (Raju Gouda) and Health and Family Welfare Minister B. Sriramulu, the two prominent Nayaka community leaders.

On the other hand, the Congress leaders are nowhere to be seen in the constituency.

Mr. Ghorpade does not have an impressive track record in electoral politics either. He had lost the Assembly election in 2004 against JD(S) candidate Anil Lad by over 35,000 votes. In the 2009 Legislative Council polls also, he had lost to BJP candidate Mrityunjaya Jinaga, who was backed by mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy.

The Janata Dal (Secular) is not a force to reckon with in the constituency considering the 3,835 (2.31%) votes it polled in the last Assembly elections.

Its candidate, N.M. Nabi, may not change the equation of a straight fight between the BJP and the Congress, but it would be decisive in tilting the balance of forces.

The Muslim community, with its sizable presence in Hospet town, forms the major chunk of the Congress’ traditional vote-bank. If this swings towards Mr. Nabi, it is bound to hurt the Congress and prove advantageous to the BJP.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 10:53:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/district-formation-is-the-big-ticket-agenda-here/article30088796.ece

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