Big fights mark poll scene in Karnataka

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Karnataka can take the pride of place in the current round of electoral battle with a former Prime Minister and six former Chief Ministers being in the fray. Interestingly there is no other former Prime Minister who is contesting except H.D. Deve Gowda. He, too, at 81, has made it clear that this will be his last contest.

There are three Union ministers and four former Union ministers apart, from one incumbent minister in the Siddaramaiah government and three others who have been ministers in the past. Perhaps, there is no other State where such a big electoral fight is on and eight of the 28 constituencies in Karnataka are in this league.

Interestingly, Mr Gowda, who lost the Lok Sabha election in 1999, just two years after he demitted the Prime Minister’s office and could enter the Lok Sabha only after winning a bye-election in 2002, has been pushed into intensive campaigning at Hassan, from where he is seeking re-election, although given his stature he would like to campaign for the party candidates. A victory for Mr. Deve Gowda would result in the growth for the JD(S) and a loss would put the party behind by years. It is for this reason that the Congress has posted enough people on the ground to ensure victory for Congress candidate A. Manju, an incumbent MLA.

Of the important Lok Sabha constituencies in the big league is Chickballapur, which adjoins Bangalore city and the contenders there are Union Minister M. Veerappa Moily (Congress), former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy (JD-S) and former Minister B.N. Bache Gowda (BJP). .

The other former CMs in the fray are N. Dharam Singh of the Congress at Bidar B.S. Yeddyurappa of the BJPapart from Union Minister, M. Mallikarjuna Kharge (Congress).

Political analyst and academic Sandeep Shastri said, “This Lok Sabha poll is likely to redefine political space in the State.

The Chief Minister’s tag may not have a positive effect on the person’s candidature. Instead, it will only create a huge demand of expectations from voters”. G Ramesh, chairperson of the Center for Public Policy in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore, said the election in Karnataka was important for both the national parties as it was a “direct fight” and the seats accrue to them directly than through allies. “That is why both parties have fielded heavyweights, unlike in other states where even cabinet ministers are shying away from contesting. In other states, allies winning seats only enhances their bargaining power.”

He said, “I find that almost all of the candidates carry the anti incumbency factor: their own or their party’s. Unfortunately the ones without incumbency factor have no chance. People are looking at MPs for solving policy and governance issues, and the representatives are talking about addressing individual and local issues.”

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