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Karnataka: Big guns lock horns in 2nd phase of polls
Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore | May 15, 2008 09:01 IST
It is over to the second phase of the Karnataka elections where nearly 1,1 crore voters will decide the fate of 589 candidates contesting the polls from 66 assembly constituencies spread across 10 districts of the state on May 16.
While the first phase of the polls which took place on May 10, largely concentrated on urban Karnataka, the second phase will focus on rural Karnataka, which has been complaining of a regional imbalance.
Polling will commence on May 16 at 7 am and will end by 5 pm. The Election Commission of India has set up over 12,000 booths in the 10 districts which will go to polls in the second phase. The districts that will go to polls in the second phase are Raichur, Uttar Kannada, Koppal, Chitradurga, Bellary, Davangere, Shimoga, Udupi, Chikmagalur and Dakshin Kannada.
While polling is expected to be peaceful by and large, the EC is taking no chances. Over 1 lakh security personnel have been posted across the state for the second phase.
The big fight in the second phase is undoubtedly the one between BJP's chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa and SP candidate S Bangarappa from Shikaripura in Shimoga. The battle is hyped and could be a waterloo for the losing candidate.
While Bangarappa hopes to sign off from politics on a winning note, for Yeddyurappa there is a lot more at stake. He is the face of the BJP and his loss would mean the loss of the party in Karnataka.
Bellary, the mining capital of Karnataka, is another constituency to watch out for. The party winning here will have a major say in the government. It is an out-and-out Congress-BJP fight in Bellary.
The battle of the brothers -- Kumar and Madhu Bangarappa, sons of S Bangarappa from Soraba in Shimoga, will also be interesting. The winner of this battle would inherit the father's legacy who has won seven times in a row from this constituency. Coastal Karnataka will also be important as the battle is expected to be an interesting one. It has been the strong hold for the BJP for several years and in the 2008 poll, the Congress expects to overturn that.
While the first phase was largely a fight between the Congress and the JD(S), the second phase according to poll pundits is the battle of the BJP. Most districts, which will go to polls in the second phase, are Lingayat-dominated areas, which means that the BJP has an edge.
The BJP is branded as a Lingayat party and its chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa, too, belongs to the community. The Congress, meanwhile, will try and make inroads into the BJP's vote bank in the Dakshin Kannada and Bellary districts which have been the BJP's strong hold for some time.
The Janata Dal (S) will be a mute spectator in the second phase of the polls. Dubbed as a party of Vokkaligas, they do not have much support from the community in the second phase as they are a minority in these belts.
During the campaigns, leaders apart from talking about stability and terrorism have tried to focus on development. Barring Dakshin Kannada and Udupi, the rest of the districts are in bad shape and need urgent development work. Leaders have been talking in terms of better roads and water facilities.
Like several parts of Northern Karnataka, the districts falling under the second phase have been facing the problem of regional imbalance. Several places in Shimoga, Chitradurga, Koppal, and Bellary need better roads. Both the Congress and the BJP have prepared separate manifestos for Bangalore and the rest of the state. While the Congress has promised free televisions, the BJP talks about free power. There are also various schemes that have been introduced for those living below the poverty line.