Parties slug it out in NK local body polls with larger gain in mind

Polling will be held to the three major municipal corporations Hubballi-Dharwad, Belagavi and Kalaburagi.  

As the countdown for polling to three major municipal corporations in the State – Hubballi-Dharwad, Belagavi and Kalaburagi – has begun, stakes are high for the ruling BJP and the principal Opposition Congress.

With the next Assembly elections less than two years away, the outcome of elections to these three important local bodies in North Karnataka is being seen as a pointer to the general mindset and political inclination of people.

While the Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation was under the BJP for the last two terms, the Congress continues to hold its sway over Kalaburagi municipal corporation. In both these places, Congress and BJP are leaving no stone unturned to assume power since they know that councillors in power will come handy during Assembly polls.

Belagavi’s unique case

Belagavi, however, is a different story as aspiring councillors are fighting the elections on party symbols for the first time since 1981. Ever since the urban local body was formed in 1981 under the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act of 1976, these candidates have fought elections independently. Its predecessor, the Belgaum Municipal Corporation Committee is the oldest urban local body in Mumbai Karnataka.

The British established it as a borough next to a military camp, in 1851, five years before they set up a local body in Dharwad in 1856. The Belagavi municipal elections have traditionally been fought on the basis of linguistic affiliation. It was always Kannada vs. Marthi groups and now in the last decade, a small group of Urdu speakers have also emerged. However, this time, it is the parties that are fighting it out.

Other contenders

Three corporations, this time around, have seen the entry of Aam Admi Party (AAP), making an effort to woo the urban voters through its “Delhi Model”. Another new entry is AIMIM of Asaduddin Owaisi and the JD(S). Political observers believe that the fortunes of the main political parties the BJP and the Congress depend much on the performance of AAP, AIMIM, and JD(S) as the candidates of these political parties are likely to eat into the vote share of the main parties.

Being the ruling party, the BJP is under pressure to retain Hubballi-Dharwad where it has completed two terms in office, while the Congress is fighting to get it back. In Kalaburagi, it is the other way round. Despite serious attempts, the BJP has fallen short of candidates in Kalaburagi (contesting in 47 out of 55), while the Congress is struggling to retain power.

Interestingly, this time BJP has fielded eight Muslim candidates in Kalaburagi, which had 27 Muslim councillors last time. Meanwhile, Belagavi presents a different picture. Whatever is gained in Belagavi will be a gain for all political parties, except Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, which kept its flock together harping on “merger of Marathi speaking areas”.

(With inputs from Praveen B. Para)

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 3:04:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/parties-slug-it-out-in-nk-local-body-polls-with-larger-gain-in-mind/article36237433.ece

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