Choice between change in Delhi and local anti-incumbency

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There seems to a strong sentiment of anti-incumbency against sitting Member of Parliament Ramesh Jigajinagi of the BJP, and if at all he manages to win, it must only be due to the Narendra Modi wave.

“Though people are fed up with Jigajinagi, we want a BJP government at the Centre with Modi as prime minister,” say the youth of Hanchinal village in Sindhagi taluk.

Retired executive engineer Madigi of Bijapur echoes the sentiment, while 62-year-old Mallikarjun Bhusare of Padaganur asserts that the BJP is ahead of the Congress in the constituency.

He is seeking a fourth term in Parliament, but his “absolute non-performance” may sink him, say many others in the constituency. “He has hardly opened his mouth in Parliament in the last three terms. In his own village, Attarga in Indi taluk, people struggle for even a single pot of water. If he cannot solve the water problem in his own village, how can he solve them elsewhere?’’ says Basavarajappa of Indi.

The Bhimashankar Cooperative Sugar Factory near Dhulkhed has failed to take off even 20 years after its inception, although thousands of farmers of Indi and Sindhagi taluks have paid their share amounts, say the people.

A fit candidate

Pitted against Jigajinagi is Congress’ Prakash Rathod, a former cricketer and a former MLC. His father K T Rathod was the State Congress president in the 1980s. Though Rathod junior has lost Assembly and parliamentary elections in the past, the Congress has found him a fit candidate.

Rathod has a clean image and the advantage of the fact that seven out of the eight Assembly segments (except Sindhagi) under the Bijapur Lok Sabha constituency are in the Congress kitty.

The coming together of strong leaders – Minister M B Patil and MLA Shivanand Patil – has galvanised the rank and file of the party. Also, the Muslims appear to be solidly behind the Congress. Bahadur Khan, 44, a tongawallah in Bijapur, says the community will continue to vote for the Congress.

But then, the entry into the fray of former IAS officer K Shivaram on a JD(S) ticket is causing jitters for the Congress party, as Shivaram is expected to grab a majority of votes of Chalavadis, a major section among the SCs.

Having served as the assistant commissioner and commissioner of the Bijapur City Municipal Council and chief secretary of the Zilla Panchayat, Shivaram, despite being an outsider, is creating some waves at the hustings. There are 14 candidates in the fray, including Sudhakar Kanamadi of the BSP and Sridhar Narayankar of the AAP. Out of the total 16,21,570 voters, 8,46,953 are men, 7,74,440  women and 177 others.

There is much potential to be harnessed in the constituency in sectors like tourism, horticulture and industry, but not much attention has been paid to them all these years.

The historic city of Bijapur is home to the world’s biggest wonder dome, the Gol Gumbaz, besides Islamic monuments like Ibrahim Rauza, Bara Kamaan, JamaMasjid and Asar Mahal. The development of tourism can create huge employment opportunities, but no government so far has made any serious attempt to tap the potential.

Bijapur is known as the Punjab of the South as five rivers flow in the district. Yet, it often suffers from drought and acute drinking water problem. In Bijapur city, piped water is supplied only once a week.

The district has no major industry. Of late, only a few sugar factories have come up. There is also rampant unemployment here. Former chief minister B D Jatti hailed from here. But, that hardly helped trigger development in the district.

Special status

The demand to extend the benefits of Article 371(J) of the Constitution, to give special status to the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, to Bijapur also is growing in the district. In the coming parliamentary elections, people in Bijapur appear to be in a dilemma: Whether to give the sitting MP another chance so that there is a change of guard in Delhi or punish him for “non-performance”.

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