High voltage contest in Karnataka’s Kalaburgi as veteran Congressman Mallikarjun Kharge looks for hat-trick

By Suresh B Desai

Kalaburagi Lok Sabha constituency is the one of the high voltage constituencies in Karnataka, which is grabbing state-wide attention after Chincholi Congress rebel MLA Umesh Jadhav resigned from his assembly seat and joined the BJP with the intention of contesting the poll against Congress heavyweight Mallikarjun Kharge who had never lost an election so far and won nine assembly and two Lok Sabha election till now.

Bitter battle is in the card between the Congress and BJP in Kalaburagi reserved constituency comprising eight assembly seats of which the Congress holds four, BJP three and JD(S) one.

Kharge, Congress leader in Lok Sabaha, will test his luck for the third time from this SC reserved constituency. However, the BJP, is leaving no stone unturned to wrest the seat from the Congress. It had roped in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had participated in a largely attended public meeting ‘Vijaya Sankalpa Yathra’ recently.

Whether Kharge will score a hat-trick or not is a different question. It is apparent that all his opponents have joined together to make him bite dust in this poll.

Former ministers Mallikayya Guttedar and Baburao Chinchansur, who were once close confidants of Kharge, are now with the BJP and waiting to settle political scores on the veteran leader. They blame Kharge for missing cabinet berths in the previous Siddaramaiah’s as he accommodated his son Piyank Kharge .

Malaka Reddy, another former minister, who is nursing grudge against Kharge had also resigned to the Congress and joined the saffron party, recently.

Well aware of all this developments, Kharge, along with his son Priyank Kharge, had already begun the election campaign by inaugurating several developmental works and laying the foundation stone for several works for the past one month. Kharge’s seriousness showed that he will not take any election lightly. He has been touring every noon and corner of his constituency.

Besides his crucial role in according special status to Hyderabad Karnataka under Article 371 (J) to the expansion of the road network in the area, the establishment of an ESIC medical hub and a Central University of Karnataka, the sanctioning of Kalaburagi railway division and setting up of a rail coach factory at Kadechur during his brief stint as railway minister, Kharge’s campaign also focuses on his achievements and the Congress’ promises to improve development in the region.

On the other hand, the BJP and Jadhav, who’s Assembly segment comes under the Bidar Lok Sabha seat, are relying heavily on Prime Minister Modi’s charisma. As Jadhav is a Banjara, a Scheduled Caste community, the BJP is looking to consolidate caste based voters in his favour. Mainly, the saffron party will bank  on six lakh Lingayaats who have traditionally voted for it.

The Congress is looking to consolidate the remaining SC, backward class and minority votes in favour of Kharge.