With Karnataka Elections in next few days, we present to our readers, a series tailored specifically for people who are interested in all the required information regarding this election. Mahesh Gajabar writes for you explaining why Karnataka is different and how their politics works since the early days. Readers are advised to draw their own conclusions from Author’s views. Here comes the fourth part of ‘Unfolding Karnataka’ Series, now putting facts and numbers together, region wise. You can follow the series here.
Karnataka can be categorically divided into following regions –
- Kitturu Karnataka (Mumbai Karnataka)
- Kalyana Karnataka (Hyderabad Karnataka)
- Middle Karnataka
- Coastal Karnataka
- Old Mysuru region
Kitturu Karnataka(Mumbai Karnataka)
Heart of this region is Lingayats and Lingayat mathas. It consists of total 50 seats. Barring few seats, all seats have minimum 25% to Max 45% and on an average 35% Lingayat voters in each constituency. From 2004 it turned out to be a BJP strong base. In history whichever party wins lion’s share of seats in both Kitturu Karnataka and Hyderabad regions wins the state. Even congress has a good base here. JDS Has no base at all after JDU/JDS leaders migrated to BJP & Congress. In 2008 JDS won two seats in Belagavi district, but they won on their own base. One of them was Umesh Katti winning Hukkeri since 1985 (except 2004) while other was Balachandra Jarakiholi of Jarakiholi brothers group, who entered politics by defeating Congress stalwart, 6 times MLA, V.S. Koujalagi. In 2008 itself, both joined BJP through Operation Lotus and were offered minister post. Last time both won on BJP ticket by 70k margin votes. Three Jarakiholi brothers though live together in a common home, yet contest from different constituencies through different parties (1 ST reserve & 2 general), always have one or another ministry in their home since 1999. In 2008, BJP won 36 out of 50 in this region and gained 2 more by Operation Lotus. In 2013 though, they had major set back of KJP impact in Haveri, Dharwad, Bagalakote, Bijapur and Gadag districts. BSR congress built by Sriramulu of Reddy gang dented chances of BJP in Gadag district massively. Belagavi district is most unaffected by these parties, due to BJP split, anti-incumbency factor. In 2013, Congress did extremely well by winning 31 seats here. Now they have to face very tough competition. In last minute drama, CM Siddu has chosen Badami assembly seat in Bagalkote district as a second choice for contesting, apart from his Chamundeshwari seat in Mysuru district. He has given his own seat, Varuna in Mysuru district, to his debutant son for reasons obvious, while aspiring for neighbouring Chamundeshwari seat. There are reports that he may lose from that seat due to caste factors (GLB- JiLiBi factor). In old Mysuru region analysis, I will explain his plan of choosing this second seat. He chosen Badami for caste reasons only. There are 48k Kuruba voters (Dhangar), caste he belongs to, where he probably feels safe to contest. From 1978 Badami has chosen Lingayat (65k voters) & Kuruba candidates alternatively. BJP is fielding a Ballari MP and strong Scheduled Tribe candidate Sri Ramulu. For him too, it is a second choice. Since JDS has announced Lingayat candidate 2 months ago with no clue of Siddu contesting from here. To avoid Lingayat votes split and gain ST votes, BJP fielded Sri Ramulu, denying ticket to 4 times BJP MLA MK Pattansheeti. It is one of high voltage seat to look for. To gain ST votes, Congress has given responsibility to Siddu’s close friend Satish Jarakiholi, of Jarakiholi brothers group.
Out of 6 MP seats BJP holds 5 and Congress 1 . Maharashtra minister Chandrakant Dada Patil of BJP is assigned as co-ordinator job in this region.
Almost all pre poll surveys predicting almost equal number of seats to both BJP and Congress in this region (22 to 24). This region has seen many Linagayat rallies for separate religion demand and they were lead by MB Patil (Babaleshwar, Bijapur district) and Vinay Kulkarni (Dharwad, Dharwad district). Both belong to this region.
Other high profilers are famous Film actress cum Kannada & Cultural minister Umasharee(Teradal, Bagalkote), Ex CM Jadadish Shettar (Hubbali Dharwad central), Ex Central minister & BJP Ghar wapasi man Basanagouda Patil Yatnal (Bijapur), Rural development minister HK Patil (Gadag), ex minister and Siddu’s close friend Satish from Yamakana maradi, Excsise minister Ramesh from Gokak, both congress and ex minister Balachandra from Arabhavi (BJP), not to forget Siddu’s financier and close aide Mining man Santhosh Lad from Kalaghatagi. He migrated from his Ballari district to Dharwad district, since 7 seats out of 9 in Ballari are reserved. He belongs to Maratha caste and known for his social donations.
JDS has only one MLA who won on his own credibility, and expecting few magical wins from last minute imported candidates.
Following are major problems that this region is facing .
- Mahadayi river dispute for drinking water between Goa and Karnataka.
- Linguistic clashes which is putting obstacle for developments in Belagavi
- Drought and increased farmer suicides
- Sugarcane prices (24 Sugar factories in Belagavi dist, 14 in Bagalakote & 9 in Bijapura and 3 more in rest of the part in this region).
Kurubas are the second most powerful caste after Lingayats here. But since Kuruba vote bank is consolidated behind Siddu and Congress hence BJP has most preferred Lingayats and Left hand Dalits/Bhovis(Vaddar) in this region. Marathas have dominance in 3 seats namely Khanapur (90k votes), Belagavi South (80K) and Belagavi rural (80k). They also have presence in Belagavi North(40k), Kagawad (30k) and Nippani (50k). In rest of the seats in Belagavi they have less than 10k votes barring Chikkodi where they have 18k votes and yamakana maradi 15k votes. In Kagwad and Nippani there is no role of MES (Maharashtra ekikarana Samiti) since Kannada voters exceed the Marathi voters and no presence of fringe group politics. But in 4 seats namely Belgavi South, North and Rural and Khanapur they a strong presence. In 1999 MES was completely decimated out of power. Same repeated in 2004 and 2008. But in 2013 they gained two seats, Belagavi south because of BJP, KJP split and Khanapur due to stupidity of Congress. In Belagavi neither Kannada nor Marathi crosses 50% and both have almost equal percentage of native speakers in city. But in western part of Belagavi rural there are 45 villages with full of Marathi while eastern and southern part with full of Kannada. Northern part has mix of both Kannada & Marathi.
Mahajan commission rejected plea of Maharashtra on Belagavi citing the reason that it is surrounded 3 sides by Kannada dominance and historically it belongs to Karnataka. But MES constantly trying to keep issue alive on merger of this part with Maharashtra and plays a fringe politics. MES gets peanuts coverage in Kannada media while it gets huge scope & coverage in Marathi media. Marathi spews the venom against Karnataka on Border issue many times.
5 times Belagavi Mayor Sambhaji Patil in 2013 won against BJP in Belagavi south due to BJP KJP split . But this time, since there is united BJP and anger of Kannadigas against on his remark “Give us (MES) 4 MLAS we will take Karnataka and Kannada to graveyard”. Fearing of backfring, he is contesting from Belagavi north now. Belagavi North has 50k Lingayat voters, 40k each Muslim and Maratha voters. Firoz Saith of Congress is a sitting MLA there. BJP also fielded a first timer and Maratha candidate since it has given 10 seats out of 18 to Lingayats in Belagavi district. In Belagavi rural fight is between 2 time BJP MLA Sanjay Patil(Marathi Jain), state Congress women wing president Lakshmi Hebbalkar(Lingayat) and MES candidate Manohar Kinekar(Ex mayor).
In Belagavi South fight is between 2 time BJP MLA Abhay Patil (Kannada Jain), MES Candidate Kiran Sayanak (Maratha, 2 time Mayor) and Prakash Maragale (Other MES group which has hold on city). In each of these constituencies there are other MES candidates from other faction group as well. They may dent the chances of MES and completely decimate MES.
Sharad Pawar (in 1986 he used Belagavi border issue in Maharashtra for his rebirth in politics) & Jayant Patil, both has aspirations to expand their NCP base in Karnataka, contacted MES in February 2018. In March they had planned for big rally in Belagavi but both the factions of MES shown no interest in NCP. Since then, they had to drop the idea.
Khanapur has currently MES MLA Aravind Patil. Last time he won due to a mistake by Congress. Congress has given a ticket to Muslim candidate helping MES candidate to mobilize Marathi votes. Anajali Nimabalkar, wife of IPS officer IGP Hemant Nimbalkar, close relative of Ashok Chavan, after denial of congress ticket contested independently and stood 3rd with 18k votes. After 2013, she stayed in Khanapur and conducted many social activities and programs, brought some funds from congress government for constituency development. She has got congress ticket this time. She is trying for Kannada votes as well, since 30% of voters are Kannadigas (60% Marathi and 10% Muslim). MES on other wins by mobilizing the Marathi voters against Kannada is facing a division within group. 2 MES candidates are contesting this time. BJP has also given ticket to Vitthal Halagekar, while a Maratha candidate, son of late MLA Prahald Remani(2008-2013), is constesting independently, eying on both Marathi & Kannada votes.
In Nippani congress has fielded a Maratha Candidate Kakasab Patil (Marathi) who is a 3 times MLA against BJP Lingayat MLA Shashikala Jolle (1st female, also 1st Kannada MLA of Nippani ). Since 1978, language politics does not work here. After delimitation in 2008, Kannada voters’ count almost came near to Marathi voters here. Lingayat’s (45k) and Maratha (50k), kuruba (Dhangar- 20k) Jain (25k) and Muslims (25k) play important role here. Shashikala Jolle’s Husband Annasaheb Jolle is contesting on BJP ticket from neighbouring constituency Chikkodi against almighty Ganesh Hukkeri.
In Kagwad Congress has imported a candidate from JDS. Srimanth Patil(Maratha) who owns a Sugar factory and maintains a good rapport with all communities. He has to face 4 times BJP MLA Raju Kage (Lingayat) here. Lingayat’s (60k) Maratha (30k) Kannada & Marathi Jains(25k) and Kuruba(20k) play a role here.
– To be Continued –
(Mahesh Gajabar contributed to this article in his personal capacity. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Netive.in.)