KARNATAKA

Srinivas Prasad fighting a crucial electoral battle

V. Srinivas Prasad

V. Srinivas Prasad  

Laiqh A Khan

Former Union Minister testing his fortunes to enter the Assembly



Srinivas Prasad is contesting elections after nine years

He won from Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha seat five times



MYSORE: After having won the Lok Sabha elections five times from the Chamarajanagar Parliamentary segment, the former Union Minister V. Srinivas Prasad is facing the rough and tumble of an electoral battle as a Congress candidate in Nanjangud Assembly Constituency to enter the State Assembly.

The outcome of the coming elections is perceived to be not only crucial for Mr. Prasad’s political future, but also holds the potential for the emergence of a prominent Dalit force in the State if he enters the Legislative Assembly.

Not unfamiliar

Though Mr. Prasad has been contesting only parliamentary elections since 1980, Nanjangud Assembly Constituency is not an unfamiliar political terrain for him. For, it was part of the Chamarajanagar (reserved) Parliamentary constituency, which sent him to the Lok Sabha on five occasions.

The old warhorse is pitted against S. Mahadevaiah of the Bharatiya Janata Party and N. Keshavamurthy of the Janata Dal (Secular) in Nanjangud, which was converted from a general constituency to a reserved one in the recent delimitation exercise.

Lingayat dominant

Though a Lingayat-dominated constituency, Nanjangud is also home to an estimated 40,000 Dalits, 20,000 Kurubas and about 10,000 Muslims, who are understood to be rallying around the Congress candidate. But, Lingayats account for more than 50,000 in the 1.71 lakh-strong constituency.

Mr. Prasad, who is incidentally contesting after a gap of nine years since he won the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, is going the extra mile to woo the Lingayat voters.

But, the former MLA M. Mahadev, who represented Nanjangud earlier and has now joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, wields a lot of influence among Lingayats in Nanjangud. Himself a Lingayat, Mr. Mahadev had publicly opposed the entry of Mr. Prasad into the Congress before joining the BJP and becoming its candidate from Chamarajanagar Assembly seat.

The delimitation exercise has not only forced Mr. Mahadev to scout for a different constituency, but also saw his political nemesis Mr. Prasad enter the fray from his home constituency of Nanjangud.

Rivalry

The decades-old rivalry between Mr. Mahadev and Mr. Prasad is also expected to cast its shadow on the coming elections. After becoming ineligible to contest from Nanjangud, Mr. Mahadev ensured that his close follower Mr. Mahadevaiah became the BJP nominee.

Similiarly, Janata Dal (Secular) candidate Keshavamurthy is a follower of the former Minister D.T. Jayakumar, who had also represented Nanjangud before delimitation.

Though Mr. Jayakumar has now quit the Janata Dal (Secular), most of the partymen have remained in the party and are working for Keshavamurthy’s success.

Active

Though Mr. Prasad had stayed away from the electoral arena since the last nine years ever since he declared that he was going into political hibernation ahead of 2004 general elections, he remained politically active by extending support to the Janata Dal (Secular) till he fell out with the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda over the latter’s “family politics” and joined the Congress.

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