Want to win polls, ask these tried, tested, trusted candidates of the political parties, who beyond the day to day political dynamics, have remained larger than life figures at their respective constituencies. More than these individuals needing a political backing, it is the parties who end up bee-lining at the doors of these evergreen leaders to add-up to their victory.
Leadership, personality, legacy of these leaders have giving them an upper hand in the game, that has repeated their victory over and over again. Colloquially, the locals simply put it as the 'Varchas' i.e. domination of the leaders, however during the district visit at the onset of the polls, we tried to summarise what exactly defines these leaders among the 2018 contestants from rest of the aspirants.
1) Kukkeri: MLA Umesh Vishwanath Katti, a JD-S legislator since 1985 so far has contested eight polls altogether and won seven of them. The constituents have remained loyal to this 58-year old leader, despite him being at the habit of party hopping; Janatha Party (1985), Janatha Dal -Secular (1989, 1994, 2008), Janatha Dal - United (1999) and BJP (2013) and upcoming 2018. Katti faced defeat once - when he was candidate from the Congress in 2004 with a margin of 820 votes to the BJP candidate Shashikant Nayika.
What keeps his victory going? No-Nonsense personality, key-player in employment generating Sugar sector in the region, Lingayat support, and voicing local aspiration irrespective of his own party ideologies.
2) Kagwad: Bharamgoud Alagoud Kage is a sitting MLA from Kagwad constituency since 2000. The leader first entered the assembly as a JD-U candidate in 2000 bypoll and in 2004 was fielded by BJP as their candidate and has won subsequent polls. In 2017, Kage honed the media glare after he along with the members of his family allegedly attacked a Congress party worker over a social media post. At the upcoming polls, Kage will be trying for the office of the 5th time with the BJP ticket.
What keeps his victory going? Enjoys local goodwill. Another key player in Sugar industry with deep pockets.
3) Sullia: If anti-incumbency does not act as a spoiler, this will be sixth-straight victory for Sullia constituency MLA S Angara despite reports of poor-infrastructure and lack of development works in the constituency. In 2013 polls, this was the only surviving bastion for the BJP of the eighth constituencies in Dakshina Kannada. Angara clung to his seat with a marginal victory 1,373 votes against Congress candidate Dr B Raghu.
What keeeps his victory going? Besides being a reserved seat SC, other parties have not been able to position a formidable cadre base. BJP backed ideology has made a significant progress in the electoral decision of the constituents.
4) Moodbidri: The former Karnataka Minister for Fisheries, K Abhayachandra Jain is the fifth-term aspirant. With the legacy of never having voted BJP to power, this constituency in Dakshina Kannada has re-elected Jain - where he has been serving for the last 20 years.
What keeps his victory going? Hailing from the Jain community, the legislator has the backing of the community leaders who are in substantial number in the region. Moreover the constituency has been a Congress inclined.
5) Mangaluru (erstwhile Ullal): While late U T Fareed has served four-times as a MLA (1972, 1978, 1999 and 2004), his son U T Khader, after the father’s demise took over the mantle in 2007. Khader won 2007-bypolls, 2008 and 2013 from the same constituency became first person to become a minister from the constituency.
What keeps his victory going? Khader candidly admits that the legacy of his father social service to the constituents has reposed people's faith on him. Besides Khader is known to be any-time accessible to the locals and is widely considered responsibly for reducing the communal divide in the region.
6) Narasimharaja: Another Congress father to son constituency would be at Narasimharaja constituency, from where the present MLA Tanveer Sait represents since 2002-bypoll. His father Aziz Sait had served the same constituency for over three decades from 1967 to 1999. It was only in 1994, he once lost to E. Maruti Rao Pawar of the BJP. Following the death of his father, junior Sait sought re-election and continued to uphold family's prided position. Opposition in the JD-S, SDPI, have tried to defeat Tanveer in the past, but in vain.
What keeps his victory going? Goodwill of the people towards the Sait family plays a pre-dominant role. Besides the Sait family is credited with a lot of progressive works and reform.
7) Gandhi Nagar: Born in Kushal Nagar, Dinesh Gundu Rao is the second son of a former Chief Minister of Karnataka, R Gundu Rao. Recently he was appointed as the working president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). Rao will contest the polls for the fifth time. Since 1999 Rao has consecutively won from Gandhi Nagar.
What keeps his victory going? Late CM Gundu Rao's legacy, largely favoured by the old-time Congressmen and predominant Congress support base in the constituency.
8)Hubballi-Dharwad Central: The former Chief Minister of the BJP led state government, Jagadish Shettar will seek for votes for the sixth-time at Hubballi-Dharwad Central assembly poll. He was the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly during 2008-2009. He was the Leader of Opposition when S M Krishna was the chief minister. In 2005, he was appointed as the State President of the BJP.
What keeps his victory going? A Lingayat leader with a strong support base and soft-spoken personality are known as his outstanding features.
9) Bantwal: For Congress B Ramanatha Rai has been the face of the party since he contested in 1985. Rai has a formidable base in the region as he goes to poll for the seventh time. In the last couple of years the region has turned into a communally sensitive zone with murder of members of Hindu and Muslim community. He faced defeat only once in 2004 by then BJP candidate B Nagaraj Shetty. In 2013 polls he won with a comfortable margin of over 17,000 votes in spite of the presence of SDPI in the fray.
What keeps his victory going? Has strong hold in maintaining religious solidarity, substantial development in the region and locally well-respected even by opponents.
10) Yadgir: Frequently shifting between his 'Yes and No', keeping Congress in jittery, Dr Malakareddy finally yielded to align with Congress at polls. It is said that he was miffed by the party for not giving him a cabinet berth. The octogenarian not only settled the lobbying for tickets among the Congress candidates but also makes way for his seventh contest - except 1985 and 2004 - Malakareddy has won polls in 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2008 and 2013.
What keeps his victory going? Strong support by Lingayat Reddy community leaders.
11) Shikaripura: Similarly, it will be an eight-stint for BJP’s CM face B S Yeddyurappa from his home base of Shikaripura, wherein the leader has won all the polls since 1983 except 1999 when he was beaten by Congress candidate.
What keeps his victory going? The constituency has a large base of the Lingayat voters and despite various allegations levelled against him, voters in the constituency seems to be unaffected. He has developed a strong booth level cadre base.
12) Shivamogga: K S Eshawarappa, the former Deputy Chief Minister, who became an MLC and Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council after losing 2013 Assembly polls, was elected to the Legislative Assembly four times from Shivamogga constituency in the past. Once again the BJP has fielded him from Shivamogga. The strong man from the Kuruba community, be it KJP or Sangollirayanna brigade, mostly a Brahmin and Lingayat voters region has always taken the centre stage.
What keeps his victory going? Eshwarappa always piggy-backed on Yedyurappa's growing persona. Lingayat leaders in the area have subsequently extended their support to him.
13) Haliyal: This will be the eighth-occasion, when Congress leader R V Deshpande will represent the Haliyal constituency. The leader who first tested water the political depth with Janata Party in 1983, moved to JD-S 1989 and in 1999 he joined Congress. However for former Industries Minister and the incumbent Minister of Education, the polls in the region face criticism for poor development in the region.
What keeps his victory going? Considered visionary among his peers who pushed for Karnataka’s IT hub way-back in 1997- Congress has always held his opinion in high regards. Moreover born into a Brahmin landlord family at Haliyal, Deshpande also has deep foothold in his constituency.
14) Kundapur: Hailed as the 'Vajpayee' of Udupi', Halady Srinivas Shetty in 2012 was left humiliated after the BJP - summoned him for cabinet swearing in Bengaluru, but at the last minute changed its mind. Dejected, the then three-time MLA of the BJP returned to his constituency and put-in his papers. He contested independently in 2013 polls, along with his supporters he won with the highest margin of 40,611 in the district, while pushing BJP to the third place. At 2018 polls however, Shetty has reconciled with the BJP leadership and will be contesting on the party ticket.
What keeps his victory going? Known for his simplicity, and self discipline Halady is known to strike chord with the rural masses that makes him a local favourite.
15) Kittur: D B Inamdar has represented Kittur eight times, twice from Janata Party in 1983 and 84, Janata Dal in 1989 and later on behest of Congress. Though the 70-year-old leader has lost in 2003 and 2008 against BJP’s Suresh Marihal - he came back to power in 2013.
What keeps his victory going? Traditional Congress vote bank, developmental work and Lingayat support
16) Magadi: Another father to son constituency. Former JD-S MLA HC Balakrishna like his father H G. Channappa does not mind changing party affiliation. While the former legislator Channappa has been with Congress, Janata Party and BJP - incumbent four-time MLA H C Balakrishna has had a similar stint BJP 1994 and 1999, JD-S legislator from 2004 and in 2018 he joined Congress.
What keeps his victory going? Known to be a reactionary politician, Balakrishna continues to have a firm hold in local mob-politics, he is highly accessible and knows the art of man-management by his leadership skills. Also hailing from Vokkaliga community, which has a strong presence in the constituency also benefits his case.
17) T Narasipura: Of the seven times contested - PWD minister Dr H C Mahadevappa has won five of the polls despite being native of neighbouring Nanjangud taluk.
What keeps his victory going? Traditionally a Congress vote-bank. Besides being close confidant of CM Siddaramiah and other senior leadership in the party has strong grass-root level connection with the local cadre.
18) Afzalpur: Six time legislator from Afzalpur Malikayya Venkayya Guttedar will contest from BJP ticket at 2018 polls. Apparently, he was unhappy with Congress denial of ministerial berth to him. However, since first polls in 1985 - the leader has always chosen the winning side including Congress, Karnataka Congress Party, Janatha Dal Secular and now BJP.
What keeps his victory going? Local critics attribute to muscle power and deep pockets owing to his flourishing excise business makes him relevant to the political leaders.
19) Belthangady: The five-time MLAK Vasantha Bangera has had his political aspiration fulfilled with BJP, Congress and JDS. At 2018, he will be contesting for the seventh time.
What keeps his victory going? Though again a party hopper, who has served his stint in BJP, Congress and JD-S – Bangera’s personal charisma with the constituents is setting the undertone with the result, subsequently - the leader is mostly ahead from 15-25 percent ahead of ballots to his nearest competitors.
20, 21, 22) Jarkiholi brothers from Belagavi district - Satish Jarkiholi (Congress), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Congress) and Balachandra Jarkiholi (BJP) will contest from Yemkanmardi, Gokak and Arabhavi assembly constituencies respectively. While Satish and Ramesh will be contesting for the fifth-time, it will be a fourth stint for Balachandra.
What keeps their victory going? The brothers hail from political dominant family, which wields considerable influence in Belagavi district.
Interestingly, during the visit to these constituencies, we realised that these places were obsolete from media debate. Facebook or Twitter war did not matter to them or at least did not influence their decision. Wave or politics of religious tags; these hyper-local constituencies showcase a region within the region means nothing. While across other constituencies, Chief Ministerial candidates are seen securing safe-seats, and party presidents fearing losing deposits - some of these candidates have even quit campaigning in their constituency for polls and have announced that they will assist their associates in procuring votes.
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