There are 6 former Karnataka Chief Ministers in the fray for the Lok Sabha elections. While each one appears to be strong in their respective constituency, the most interesting battle would be between two former Chief Ministers, H D Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (S) and Veerappa Moily of the Congress. The rest in the fray are N Dharam Singh, B S Yeddyurappa, H Deve Gowda and D Sadananda Gowda.
The biggest focus would however be on the Chikkaballapur constituency where Kumaraswamy will be taking on Veerappa Moily. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and the fact is that both had reluctantly agreed to contest from this constituency. Moily’s name in fact came out in the last list much to the surprise of his followers. It is said that the Congress was not sure of granting him a ticket doubting his winning capabilities. In the interim Moily had even pitched the name of his son for a ticket, but the same was rejected.
Kumaraswamy on the other hand too was a late starter. He originally has been part of the Bangalore Rural constituency, but after his wife Anita Kumaraswamy suffered two consecutive defeats, it is said that Kumaraswamy was not sure about fighting the elections from there. Prior to finalising his candidature from Chikkaballapur, he had said that he would first speak with his people in Bangalore Rural, take their approval and then decide.
Prior to Kumaraswamy filing his nominations from here, it appeared to be easy pickings for Moily, but today that scenario has changed a bit and it appears that it will be a battle to the finish. There are around 16 lakh voters in this constituency and they mainly comprise Vokkaligas, OBC’s, SCTs.
Both the leaders are on the road today seeking out the votes. Moily can afford to spend more time in the constituency as his focus would be just this one. However for Kumaraswamy who is the star campaigner for the JD(S), he needs to be in other places too. There is a lot at stake for Kumaraswamy. He has to win this in order to keep the flag of his party flying high. He has the outsider tag in Chikkaballapur and many of his critics would say that he was afraid of losing Bangalore rural and hence came here. The fact that his wife lost two elections in Bangalore Rural has also not gone down too well in the party and it has proven that despite having the backing of her husband, she was unable to pull off a victory especially in a bastion that used to be a JD(S) strong hold.
Kumaraswamy is relying heavily on the 20000 Vokkaliga votes in this constituency which has 16 lakh voters. Although the Vokkaligas appear to be leaning towards Kumaraswamy, he runs the danger of his votes being split by BJP candidate, Bache Gowda who is also from the same community.
Moily on the other hand will rely on the rest of the votes. He had this outsider tag the last time he contested from here in 2009. He won that elections by around 51000 votes. However today he is familiar with the voter today. I am confident that I will win this time as the people of the constituency are happy with me. Moreover this has been a traditional Congress bastion since 1977, he also points out. Moreover he also says that the caste factor has not made a difference here since the people have never voted on this basis.
However there are some voters who differ with what Veerappa Moily is saying and if this is the feeling across the constituency then the battle may be harder than what he is thinking. The general complaint is that Moily changed as a person ever since he became the Union Minister. The humility has returned now that he has to seek votes, but in the past five years we hardly saw him in the constituency says Rajanna a voter from Chikkballapur. Several other voters also point out that two major problems such as illegal sand mining and drinking water to 200 villages in the constituency have not been addressed as yet. Moreover many are also waiting for the government to develop it into a Sattelite town in a bid to reduce the congestion in Bangalore. The other complaint is that despite it being such a beautiful place, there is not much emphasis that has been to tourism.
Kumaraswamy who is leaving no stone unturned has a hectic schedule everyday. Apart from travelling to other constituencies, he ensures that he spends a considerable amount of time here. I am confident of winning the elections. My opponent has been named by the Aam Admi Party in the list of corrupt people, he says without naming Moily. It does not matter if I am new to this constituency and what matters is that the BJP and Congress are corrupt parties and this will work in my favour he says.
Apart from Kumaraswamy and Moily there is also Bache Gowda of the BJP and Arkesh of the Aam Admi Party who are in the fray. Gowda has been a former minister in the BJP government. Although he appears confident, many feel that his chances are bleak. He is banking on the fact that the BJP will form the government in Delhi and this would help the constituency a great deal if he is elected. Arkesh on the other hand is attempting to spread the AAP message around. He speaks of corruption issues raised by his party. Moreover he quotes the fact that Arvin Kejriwal during his visit to Karnataka had seen potential in Chikkaballapur and taken out a road show here.
In all there are 8 assembly constituencies in Chikkaballapur. Four are held by the Congress, two by the JD(S), one by the BJP and one independent who is leaning towards the Congress.