Muniyappa goes the whole hog to take Kolar

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Kolar: Kolar (SC reserved) constituency has so far undisputably remained a Congress bastion. Consider this: Of the 15 parliamentary elections, the Congress has won 14 times. And Union Minister K H Muniyappa, who is seeking re-election, has won six times in a row.

However, Muniyappa does not seem to be sitting pretty this election. He is working overtime to overcome strong anti-incumbency. A visit to the constituency reveals the discontent among the people against the sitting MP. Even his own party workers are sore over issues such as drinking water shortage and lack of job opportunities.

The JD(S) has fielded greenhorn K Kesava, a Bangalore-based realtor, and the BJP, a four-time MLA E M Narayanswamy, who crossed over to the saffron party from the Congress in 2011 during ‘Operation Lotus’.

The AAP candidate is Dalit leader Kotiganahalli Ramaiah. Besides, there are 15 other candidates, including that of the SP and the BSP, in the fray. Muniyappa, who carefully plays his political cards, knows fully well that getting re-elected is a tough task.
So, he quickly identified the weak areas and pulled out all stops to strengthen them. To begin with, he secured the support of Varthur Prakash, an Independent MLA and an influential community leader in Kolar.

Another Independent MLA from Mulbagal, G Manjunath, who contested as a Congress rebel candidate, has been reinducted into the party. Manjunath secured a whopping 52 per cent of the vote share in Mulbagal in the 2013 Assembly elections. Besides, former BJP MLA from Malur, S N Krishnaiah Setty, was brought into the party recently, despite the fact that he has been facing serious charges of corruption.

Muniyappa’s move in getting the support of these leaders is likely to go a long way in the polls. Also, with the the JD(S) and the BJP fielding a Bhovi candidate, it is expected that Muniyappa may be able to consolidate his votes from the Right and Left sub-communities among the Scheduled Castes due to lack of an alternative to his leadership.

Locals suggest that the JD(S) is trying to cash in on the anti-incumbency factor. The JD(S) has three sitting MLAs in the Kolar constituency, who may try to sway a considerable number of votes in their party’s favour. It is said that a large section of Muslims is also unhappy with Muniyappa. The JD(S) is going all-out to garner the support of Muslims, too.

BJP’s Narayanswamy is banking heavily on the Modi wave, especially in the urban pockets of the constituency. The BJP believes that the presence of a number of so-called secular parties in the fray would divide the Congress votes and eventually help the saffron party.

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