Polls for two Lok Sabha seats in Mandya and Bangalore Rural constituency will be held on Wednesday, following two weeks of intense political campaigning that saw the entire political set up of the ruling Congress in Karnataka, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, virtually pitched in the Gowda heartland.
The election sees the ruling Congress attempting to dethrone the Janata Dal Secular of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda in the region. The intensity of the poll battle can be judged from the amount of man hours put in by both sides in their attempt to bag the seats.
With the personal and political history of Siddaramaiah, Deve Gowda and S M Krishna enmeshed in the electoral battle along with stakes for the future leadership of the Vokkaliga community in the region, the campaign phase witnessed bitter exchanges, not so much between the candidates but between the principal proponents in the political game in the region.
The Congress party has taken up the challenge of translating its abysmal losses in the 2009 Parliament elections in the two constituencies to victories against the JDS. While it has the advantage of being in power this time, it is also up against the combined might of the JDS and the BJP. The campaign has seen BJP leaders like R Ashok pitching for JDS candidate Anitha Kumaraswamy.
The bypoll, with only nine months left for the 15th Lok Sabha, was necessitated by the resignation of N Cheluvarayaswamy and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy from the Mandya and Bangalore Rural constituencies. Kumaraswamy’s wife, the JDS candidate in the Bangalore Rural constituency, is pitted against D K Suresh, the brother of former Congress state working president D K Shivakumar. Anitha Kumaraswamy is playing for the sympathy that she could generate on account of her loss in the Assembly elections from a segment of the parliamentary constituency.
In Mandya, a veteran grassroots JDS politician C S Puttaraju is pitted against the glamour of 30-year-old Kannada actress Ramya or Divya Spandana of the Congress, who lost her foster father shortly after she had filed her nomination for