Role reversal and little else at Kagwad

Two key contestants have swapped parties since the 2018 polls

It is another election in Kagwad and the two key contestants remain the same as in the 2018 Assembly polls, except that they have swapped parties.

Shrimant Patil, a disqualified MLA, has switched from the Congress to the BJP and he has been given ticket by the saffron party. A miffed veteran politician Raju Kage, who had fought and won three elections as a BJP candidate, has taken Mr. Patil’s place as Congress nominee. Mr. Kage began his electoral career when he was a joint candidate of the Janata Parivar parties in 2000.

Interestingly, both candidates are not seen abusing their former parties much. Mr. Patil is going around Lingayat-dominated areas speaking of the “visionary leadership of B.S. Yediyurappa” and the “greatness of Pant Pradhan [Marathi for Prime Minister] Narendra Modi”.

Making an emotional pitch, he has been saying in some meetings that his “neglect by leaders in the JD(S)-Congress coalition government” was so intense that he suffered a heart attack before the vote of confidence. Mr. Patil had disappeared from the scene in Karnataka amidst the drama of defections in 2018 and surfaced in a hospital in Mumbai. T/he Congress had been saying that he was “kidnapped” by the BJP to stop him from being in the Assembly on the day of trust vote.

Of all constituencies in the district, Kagwad is the closest to Maharashtra. The inter-State border starts within five kilometres of the city and Sangli, the first major city in Maharashtra, is at a distance of 28 kilometres. Mr. Patil lives in Sangli and commutes to his place of business in Kagwad. Superintendent of Police Lakshman Nimbargi has held a meeting with the Maharashtra police officers about the smooth conduct of elections and safety and security of Mr. Patil.

Mr. Kage has been criticising all the disqualified MLAs for their defection and betrayal of the people’s mandate. He accuses Mr. Patil, a sugar factory owner, of deliberately delaying sugarcane dues to farmers. He also accused his opponent of sending lumpen elements to assault protesting farmers.

Mr. Kage, Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, and senior BJP leader Umesh Katti are considered “good friends” since their Janata Parivar days. This factor was expected to have forced Mr. Kage to remain in the BJP, despite the party ignoring his request for ticket. Mr. Kage has, however, said he continued to remain friends with leaders like Mr. Savadi and Mr. Katti though his political affiliations had changed.

On the other hand, the Congress welcoming Mr. Kage and ignoring the aspirations of former Minister Prakash Hukkeri is supposed to have upset the latter. It is said that Mr. Kage would not get the support of Mr. Hukkeri in this campaign. But Mr. Kage has brushed aside the rumours.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 1:14:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/role-reversal-and-little-else-at-kagwad/article30099915.ece

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