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Siddaramaiah's biggest challenge is to win his own seat

By Bibhu Ranjan Mishra
April 19, 2018 15:55 IST
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Caste composition is going to be a huge determinant for winning Chamundeshwari where Vokkaligas and Lingayats constitute a vast majority, which puts Siddaramaiah in a weaker turf given that he belongs to the Kuruba community, says Bibhu Ranjan Mishra.

IMAGE: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah shares a light moment with Karnataka Congress chief G Paramaeshwara during an election campaign in Kolar district. Photograph: Kind courtesy @siddaramaiah/Twitter

As Chamundeshwari in Mysore is headed for a high voltage political battle with ruling Congress deciding to field Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, a traditional stronghold of the Janata Dal-Secular, all eyes are on the next move by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Chamundeshwari is not a new constituency for Siddaramaiah who has won elections from there five times since 1983 before shifting base to neighbouring Varuna in 2008.


However, this time around, it's going to be a do or die battle from him, especially after his request for contesting from a second seat was turned down by the party high command which did not want to show him as a weak leader who himself is unsure about getting elected.

In the 2018 assembly election, caste composition is going to be a huge determinant for winning the constituency where Vokkaligas and Lingayats constitute a vast majority, which puts Siddaramaiah in a weaker turf given that he belongs to the Kuruba community.

Since the JD-S has already decided to field party old-timer and sitting MLA G T Devegowda, a prominent Vokkaliga face, Siddaramaiah will have to heavily bank on the SC/ST, OBC as well as Muslim votes.

However, with Asaduddin Owaisi led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen extending its support to the JD-S for the 2018 assembly election, it is also expected to dent his prospects of securing significant Muslim votes this time.

Political analysts believe that in case the BJP decides to field an OBC candidate from Chamundeshwari, they can easily erode Congress's vote bank even though they may not be able to win the seat, which would ultimately favour incumbent G T Devegowda.

Other than the caste metrics, there are also certain factions within the ruling party which have since been waiting for a suitable opportunity to oppose Siddaramaiah's leadership but have not been able to do much given his strong support base among the voters and image as a mass leader.

Siddaramaiah, a former JD-S leader, switched to the Congress in 2006 and since then has grown in the ranks.

"With Chamundeshwari expected to take a significant amount of Siddaramaiah's focus, he may not be able to give enough attention to other constituencies, which is very much important. Things would have been much different had the party high command agreed him to contest from a second constituency," said a political analyst.

Meanwhile, political observers are also keenly watching the kind of response that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's forthcoming rallies evoke from the people of the state.

Modi is expected to start his campaign for the party starting from April 29, and address as many as 16 rallies across the state from then to May 10, according to party sources.

While the party is banking heavily on his charismatic leadership to swing the political fortune in BJP's favour, Modi's ability as a crowd puller has significantly dwindled unlike the 2014 general elections.

Besides, party president Amit Shah has also started a fresh round of campaign in Karnataka. The party, however, is more banking on the door-to-door election campaign in this election.

The BJP has already announced its second list of 82 candidates in addition to the 72 it had already announced.

Interestingly, the party has given preferences to old-timers including a few tainted former ministers.

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Bibhu Ranjan Mishra
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