Will Cheluvarayaswamy be third-time lucky?

N. Cheluvarayaswamy

N. Cheluvarayaswamy  

Shankar Bennur

He is not facing his traditional rival this time

He has an edge over his rivals

NAGAMANGALA: The former Transport Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) strongman N. Cheluvarayaswamy is aiming for a hat-trick in Nagamangala.

Mr. Cheluvarayaswamy, who was persuaded to return to the Janata Dal (Secular) fold after his brief stint in the former Deputy Chief Minister M.P. Prakash’s camp, is not facing his traditional rival and the former MLA L.R. Shivarame Gowda of the Congress, in the coming elections.

The intense electoral battle which was witnessed between Mr. Cheluvarayaswamy and Mr. Gowda in 1999 and 2004 may not been seen this time as the Congress has fielded a new face in K. Suresh Gowda. The denial of ticket provoked an outburst of anger from Mr. Shivarame Gowda, a prominent Vokkaliga leader in the district, who came in the open against the district Congress leaders for denying ticket to him.

Mr. Shivarame Gowda, who filed nomination as the Congress rebel, was persuaded to withdraw from the race and help Suresh Gowda to foil Cheluvarayaswamy’s juggernaut.

Nagamangala is always known for its pitched political battles. All these years, the constituency witnessed keen tussles between Mr. Shivarame Gowda and Mr. Cheluvarayaswamy.

This time around, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is mobilising support to establish its base in the district, is confident of winning at least four seats, including Nagamangala.

Political observers here point out that the Congress could have been in trouble if Mr. Shivarame Gowda was in the race. Had Mr. Shivarame Gowda remained in the fray, it would have benefited the Janata Dal (Secular) with the split in votes. Understanding the election arithmetic of Nagamangala, the Congress struck a “deal” with Mr. Shivarame Gowda, who, till the last minute, was bent on contesting the election.

The BJP which poached four disgruntled Congress leaders and gave ticket to them, did not succeed in poaching Mr. Shivarame Gowda, who won the 1989 and 1994 election on the Congress symbol.

Mr. Shivarame Gowda lost the 1999 and 2004 elections to Mr. Cheluvarayaswamy with a sizeable margin. With Mr. Shivarame Gowda withdrawing from the race, the battle is evenly poised now although Mr. Cheluvarayaswamy, who is identified as the leader in the inner circles of H.D. Kumaraswamy, has an edge over others owing to the development works he initiated during his tenure as Minister of Health and Transport in the N. Dharam Singh and H.D. Kumaraswamy Governments.

According to the party leaders, the Janata Dal (Secular) which bagged seven of the nine seats in the last election will put up a “repeat show” of 2004 winning most seats in the coming election.

Mr. Suresh Gowda is confident that the electorate will opt for a change this time.

BJP candidate Jayarame Gowda is banking on what he described as “BJP wave” in the State following the “betrayal” of Janata Dal (Secular) to in pulling down the B.S. Yeddyurappa Government. As Yeddyurappa’s brith place is in Mandya district — Bookanakere in K.R. Pet taluk, people will definitely vote the BJP to make him the chief minister, he feels.

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