Davangere: Members of three political families are vying to win the hearts of the 15,26,370 registered voters in the Davangere parliamentary constituency.
Congress candidate S S Mallikarjun is the son of Shamanur Shivashankarappa, the Davangere South MLA and district in-charge minister.
The BJP has fielded the sitting MP, G M Siddeswara, whose father G Mallikarjunappa had represented Davangere in Parliament thrice. The JD(S) nominee, Mahima J Patel, is the son of former chief minister J H Patel. Mahima defected from the Congress after he was denied ticket.
The Davangere seat is spread over eight Assembly segments: Davangere North, South, Channagiri, Honnali, Jagalur, Mayakonda, Harihar and Harapanahalli.
A total of 18 candidates are in the poll fray. The AAP, the CPI and the BSP have also fielded candidates. The contest, however, is expected to be mainly between the Congress and the BJP.
The JD(S), at the most, can put up a fight in just a few segments. Mahima Patel is likely to snatch some votes from the Congress and the BJP in some pockets of Channagiri (the home turf of his late father) and Mayakonda, besides the areas dominated by members of Lingayat Panchamasali. Patel belongs to Lingayat Banajiga, a subsect of Lingayat Panchamasali.
Lingayats are in majority in the constituency, followed by Kurubas, Dalits, Muslims and Nayakas.
The Congress and the BJP candidates have strong presence in the region as their families run educational institutions and business establishments.
They are leaving no stone unturned in attracting the voters, and have roped in senior leaders and star campaigners of their respective parties for canvassing. In the last two elections, Mallikarjun had lost to Siddeswara by just about 2,000 votes.
He is now banking on several schemes of the Central and the State governments to woo the Congress’ traditional votebank — OBCs, SCs, STs and Muslims. His campaign is also bolstered by the fact that seven of the eight MLAs in the constituency belong to the Congress.
He, however, has an image problem, especially in rural areas where people think he would remain inaccessible to them once elected.
He seems to be surrounded by sycophants, and is believed to be concerned only about the issues of Davangere city.
Siddeswara, on the other hand, has been toiling hard to reach out to voters, banking on “Modi wave” and the programmes implemented by the BJP government in the State and the traditional voters of the party. During his stints as MP, he remained accessible to people despite his busy schedule. But the fact that the BJP does not have an MLA in the constituency could go against him.
On his part, Mahima Patel is relying on the goodwill of his late father who is considered the architect of Davangere district.
He also wants to cash in on the discontent of Muslims. Other leaders upset with Shivankarappa’s family for scuttling their political career in Davangere district could work for Patel.
While members of the dominant Lingayat caste are expected to vote for all the three parties, the victory would be decided by whom Dalits, Kurubas, Muslims and other backward classes vote for.