Though the battle for the Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha (reserved) seat in Karnataka is largely seen as a clash between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with the Janata Dal (Secular) ceding the seat to its alliance partner, presence of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate in the fray is expected to have an impact on the electoral pitch.
While the Congress is likely to renominate its incumbent MP R. Dhruvanarayan, the former MP and BJP leader V. Srinivas Prasad has vowed to wrest the seat from the Congress.
The BSP has over the years emerged as a force to reckon with in the constituency.
Not only did BSP leader N. Mahesh emerge victorious from Kollegal Assembly constituency in the 2018 elections, the party surprised many by bagging nine out of the 30 seats in the Kollegal City Municipal Council (CMC) in the elections held in September last.
“The party’s support base is not confined to Kollegal in the constituency,” said BSP’s State general secretary Arkalavadi Nagendra. The party has a fairly good spread of support in H.D. Kote, T. Narsipur, Varuna and other constituencies also, he claimed.
Though the BSP has decided to contest in all the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in the State, chiefly to maintain its national party tag that is under a threat, the party’s stake is perceived to be higher in Chamarajanagar than in most of the other constituencies.
The party is yet to finalise its candidate for Chamarajanagar. Party sources said it could be either Shivakumar or Nagendra. The BSP’s candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Shivamallu, is no longer with the party.
“Even if the BSP does not win the seat, the party candidate will have the potential to dictate the terms as far as the margin of victory is concerned,” said a party leader.
While Mr. Dhruvanarayan polled 5.67 lakh votes against the BJP’s A.R. Krishnamurthy, who secured 4.26 lakh votes, in 2014, political observers said the eventual victor in the 2019 polls would not have a wide margin. “Whoever wins, the victory margin will be slimmer this time,” a political observer said.
Even though Mr. Prasad enjoys support among the Dalits, it is widely believed that the BSP’s vote share will come mostly from the Congress’ support base.
In 2014, the BSP had secured 34,846 votes and the JD(S), which is in an alliance with the Congress now, had polled 58,760 votes.
The BSP factor is likley to play a major role in the clash between the Congress and the BJP in the constituency.