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Bhadravathi voters deciding factor in Shimoga's high-profile battle

For the Congress-JD(S) combine, the only hope to win Shimoga is to increase its vote share in Bhadravathi where the BJP is weak.

, ET Bureau|
Apr 22, 2019, 12.12 PM IST
B Y Raghavendra, BJP candidate from Shimoga for Lok Sabha election with his father B S Yeddyurappa after casting vote.
SHIMOGA: Girish Kumar, a vegetable vendor, was rushing to close the store on Saturday morning as he was in no mood to miss the public rally of BJP’s national president Amit Shah in Bhadravathi, an industrial town near Shimoga. Kumar is not a BJP worker but wants to vote for the saffron party's candidate on April 23, although the 32-year-old has never voted for the BJP in the past.

"We do not vote for the BJP in the assembly polls as its non-existent in Bhadravathi. In the general election, the BJP stands to win and I will vote for their candidate," Kumar, who is fond of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s work, said.

Bhadravathi's about two lakh voters could play a crucial role in sealing the fate of Shimoga's two candidates, both of who are sons of former Chief Ministers. While sitting MP and son of BS Yeddyurappa, B.Y Raghavendra, is seeking a third term, it's now-or-never opportunity for the Congress-backed JD(S) candidate Madhu Bangarappa, son of former CM, the late S Bangarappa.

For the Congress-JD(S) combine, the only hope to win Shimoga is to increase its vote share in Bhadravathi where the BJP is weak. On the other hand, the saffron party has a strong base in Shimoga City, Byndoor and Shikaripura assembly segments. In the remaining constituencies such as Soraba, Thirthahalli and Sagar, both the candidates are expected to garner almost equal number of votes, shows a constituency-wise data on votes polled in the recently-held by-election.

Interestingly, the BJP candidate had received only 8,866 votes in Bhadravathi during the 2018 assembly polls. In the by-poll, the voters surprised everyone as BJP's Raghavendra received 52,000 votes, despite party's weak presence in the once-known industrial town where now-defunct public sector undertakings -- Mysore Paper Mills and Visvesvaraya Steel Plant -- are located.

Sensing the importance of Bhadravathi's electorate, Shah’s first public appearance in Shimoga was held on the busy BH Road of Badravathi on Saturday. In his short speech, Shah requested the audience to elect BJP candidate so that Narendra Modi becomes the prime minister of India again.

The Congress and JD(S) too is leaving no stone unturned to stitch together all the indifferences that exist among the local leaders. On Friday, party's trouble-shooter D.K Shivakumar brought together Badravathi’s sitting Congress MLA B.K Sangameshwara and former MLA Appaji Gowda of the JD(S), publicly perceived as die-hard enemies.

Sangameshwara, who belongs to Lingayat community, said he would ensure the coalition-candidate Madhu Bangarappa gets at least 1 lakh votes from Badravathi. This could prove costly for the BJP as the sitting Congress MLA had not worked for Bangarappa in the by-poll as he was miffed with Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka. There was also a speculation that he would join the BJP, led by Karnataka's popular Lingayat-face Yeddyurappa.

While BJP's Raghavendra is riding on Modi and Yeddyurappa's popularity, Bangarappa too is hopeful. One, Bangarappa's margin of loss in the by-poll was just 50,000 and secondly, the combined strength of the Congress and JD(S). "On paper, Bangarappa has a bright chance to win, but the BJP has always surprised us ," Manjunath N., an authorickshaw driver said.

Key candidates:-
B.Y Raghavendra - BJP (sitting MP)
Madhu Bangarappa - JD(S) and Congress

Male: 7.20 lakh
Female: 7.28 lakh
Others: 42
Total: 14.49 lakh

Assembly seats
Shimoga Rural - BJP
Bhadravati - Congress
Shimoga - BJP
Tirthahalli - BJP
Shikaripura - BJP
Soraba - BJP (Kumar Bangarappa)
Sagar - BJP
Byndoor - BJP

Past Lok Sabha Election results

Important Notes
  • The BJP has won five times since 1998 (including 2018 by-election) while the Congress has won only once.
  • Former Chief Minister late S Bangarappa, whose son Madhu Bangarappa is in the fray, was elected from the constituency four times, each term from a different political party.
  • In 2009, BY Raghavendra had defeated old warhorse S Bangarappa by a margin of about 50,000 votes.
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