BANGALORE: After Shimoga, the one district where former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa is hoping of a clean sweep in the May 5 polls, is Haveri from where he launched the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) in December last year.
This district has the distinction of giving birth to three saint-poets — Bhaktha Kanakadasa, Santha Shishunala Sharief and Sarvagna. Besides export of a rare variety of chilli Byadgi chilli, grown here. Earlier a part of the undivided Dharwad district, Haveri became a separate district in 1997.
In the 2008 Assembly polls, BJP won five of the total six seats. Only the Hirekerur seat was bagged by actor-turned-politician B C Patil. BJP had won Haveri (SC) City, Hanagal, Shiggaon, Byadgi and Ranebennur seats.
The political scenario here changed after December when Yeddyurappa, after quitting BJP, held a mammoth rally in Haveri city to launch the new political outfit. Four of the five MLAs have quit BJP and are contesting as KJP candidates. Another MLA and Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai, a confidant of Yeddyurappa, is seeking re-election from Shiggaon.
The ruling BJP literally found it hard to find candidates to take on KJP. For BJP, more than the anti-incumbency, it is the Yeddyurappa factor which haunts them a lot.
In all the six constituencies, KJP is giving a tough fight to Congress, which is finding it hard to reclaim lost ground. Although there was no complaints in the Congress camp over distribution of tickets, they are a bit worried about Yeddyurappa’s influence on voters.
Barring one MLA, Sureshgouda Patil from Byadgi, other sitting legislators are contesting from KJP. Former MLC Shivaraj Sajjanar is contesting from KJP in Byadgi.
The district witnessed a slew of development projects during the tenure of Yeddyurappa. The Upper Tunga Project was commissioned, which irrigates 35,000 hectares of land, an engineering college was sanctioned for Haveri, district hospital was upgraded at a cost of `19 crore, `40 crore was released for Kaginele Development Authority, all PHCs were upgraded and roads were improved in all taluks. Although these works had been done by the ruling BJP government, Yeddyurappa has been claiming credit for these works.
Haveri (SC) City
This is one constituency where, perhaps, KJP is facing an uphill task due to the negative wave against sitting MLA Nehru Olekar. The voters say that no development has been taken up in the last five years despite crores of rupees being released by the Yeddyurappa government.
The UGD works being taken up an year ago by the local civic body has not been completed and drinking water problem has not been addressed. All these factors may work against Olekar. Taking advantage of the anti-Olekar factor, Congress nominee Rudrappa Manappa Lamani is leaving no stone unturned to ensure his victory. BJP has given ticket to Malleshappa Harijan, a former zilla panchayat president.
A close fight is on the cards in this constituency where former Public Works Minister C M Udasi is locked in battle with Manohar Tahsildhar of Congress. Udasi is contesting for the eighth time and Tahsildhar is for the ninth.
Tahsildhar had won in 1978, 1989 and 1999 and Udasi in 1983, 1985, 1994, 2004 and 2008 elections. Belonging to Banajiga community, Udasi is banking on his achievements in the last five years. BJP has given ticket to Basavaraj Haadimani.
This constituency is known to throw up surprises. Former cop B C Patil contested from JD(S) ticket in 2004 polls and won. Subsequently, he joined Congress and won the 2008 Assembly polls. KJP has given ticket to Ujanesh Banakar, son of former Speaker B G Banakar. In 2008 polls, Ujanesh contested on a BJP ticket, but lost. BJP has given ticket to Palakshi Gouda. Having lost two elections, Ujanesh is playing the sympathy card to woo voters.
A triangular fight is likely here. G Shivanna, a former BJP MLA, is now a KJP candidate. Former Rural Water Supply Minister K B Koliwad is contesting as Congress candidate. B H Bannikod, former JD(S) president, is contesting as rebel candidate against the party nominee D M Sali, former chief whip in the Legislative Council. Former BBMP deputy mayor R Shankar is in the fray as an independent candidate.
A lot of developments had been done in the last five years, especially basic amenities. This is likely to be a plus point for Shivanna. He is also depending on Yeddyurappa’s influence. Arun Kumar Pujar is BJP candidate here.
A direct fight between KJP and Congress is on the cards. Former minister Basavaraj Shivannavar of Congress is taking on former MLC Shivaraj Sajjanavar. Former BJP MLA Sureshgouda Patil, citing personal reasons, backed out from contest. Being a leading grower of Byadgi chilli, this constituency is dominated by Lingayats whose votes are decisive. Virupakshappa Bellary is contesting as BJP candidate.
Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai is contesting on BJP ticket for the second time. Lingayats and Muslims are deciding factors. Former MLA Syed Ajjampeer Qadri is contesting on Congress ticket. After Bommai refused to join KJP, Yeddyurappa has given ticket to Bapugouda Patil, a local Lingayat leader. It is learnt that Yeddyurappa is making all efforts to defeat Bommai for betraying him. Besides, Yeddyurappa’s factor is haunting Bommai.