Karnataka election 2018: Will Siddaramaiah magic help Cong reap rich dividends again?

May 14, 2018

MYSURU: Five years ago, the Congress rode on a groundswell of popular support in Mysuru and Chamarajanagar districts to sweep 12 of the 15 constituencies – Mysuru has 11, and Chamarajanagar four. With polling for the assembly elections having concluded, the discussion within political circles is if chief minister Siddaramaiahwill be able to do an encore of the feat.
However, the situation is starkly different this year to what it existed five years ago. The departure of senior Dalit leader V Srinivasa Prasad, who joined the BJP, and Adagooru H Vishwanath, who is contesting as a JD(S) candidate from Hunsur, could have a possible effect on the fortunes of the party in the two districts.

While the CM did manage to offset the damage caused by the exit of two senior leaders of the party by roping in Dalit leader AR Krishnamurthy, who is the son of former governor B Rachaiah, and Kuruba leader CH Vijayashankar, from the BJP, the Congress continues to face a stiff challenge from the JD(S) in the region.

 In 2013, led by Siddaramaiah, the Congress won eight of the 11 constituencies in Mysuru and swept all the four segments in Chamarajanagar. While the JD(S) bagged three seats in Mysuru, the BJP drew a blank. This year, both the JD(S) and the BJP appear prepared to challenge the Congress in the two districts, and anti-incumbency too could prove the undoing of a few Congress MLAs.

Before Siddaramaiah joined the Congress in 2006, Mysuru remained a JD(S) stronghold, and the party is more determined than ever to wrest control of the district. While the JD(S) bagged KR Nagar, HD Kote and Chamundeshwari seats among the eight rural segments in Mysuru in 2013, the party, besides hoping to retain the three constituencies, is making a determined bid to wrest Periyapatna and Hunsur seats from the Congress, and is eyeing the Chamaraja seat in the city/

Meanwhile, the BJP is hoping for a good show in the Lingayat-dominated pockets in Chamarajanagar district, where it has not won a single seat since 2004. “We are hoping to win the Hanur seat in Cahamarajanagar, and are also hoping to do well in the three urban constituencies in Mysuru. We have a good chance of reclaiming Krishnaraja segment, with the influence of Srinivasa Prasad,” said a senior BJP leader.

Within the Congress camp, however, confidence of retaining the Chamaraja and Narasimharaja segments is high, owing to the backing of the Ahinda (Kannada acronym for Dalits, other Backward Classes and minorities) voters.