Karnataka election 2018: JD(S) spins a CM-in-waiting tale for twin win for Kumaraswamy

RAMANAGARA/CHANNAPATNA: A would-be chief minister as your representative is a potential bait voters fall for. Mohammed Farooq, who’s been making toys for 30 years, is over the moon because JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy is contesting this time from the land of toys, Channapatna.
Farooq, like many in the constituency, believes that Kumaranna (as he is popularly known) will become CM again in the event of a coalition government in Karnataka, and develop Channapatna on the lines of neighbouring Ramanagara.
It doesn’t matter for Farooq that Kumaraswamy is also contesting from Ramanagara, from where he’s been winning since 2004, and it is not clear which segment he will retain if he wins both constituencies.
Knowing the pulse of the people, a JD(S) slogan is already doing the rounds in both Ramanagara and Channapatna constituencies: “Nimma vote – Mundina Mukhyamantri ge (Your vote is for the next CM).”
Going by this campaign, the JD(S) is ideally the favourite to win Ramanagara and Channapatna, but a careful study of the two constituencies reveals that winning the latter could be a herculean task for Kumaranna, as his opponent is none but Yoganna, as BJP candidate and incumbent MLA C P Yogeshwara is better known.
An actor-turned-politician, Yogeshwara is quite popular among women and farmers, thanks to his role in setting up a couple of textile factories that ensured thousands of jobs for locals, and filling up of several dried-up tanks that has revived agriculture in the otherwise arid belt.
However, Yogeshwara, who had it easier in previous elections when he had contested on Congress and Samajawadi Party (SP) tickets, is facing hurdles as the BJP is not popular among Muslims, a decisive vote bloc in the Vokkaliga-dominated constituency. In 2013, Yogeshwara had won against Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha by a narrow margin on an SP ticket.
Transport minister HM Revanna, who is Congress candidate in Channapatna, is no pushover either, and is making all attempts to emerge as the dark horse. “He is hoping Siddaramaiah’s Ahinda magic will work in his favour, since Channapatna has a sizeable Scheduled Caste, Kuruba and Muslim population. If they vote collectively, he has every chance of winning the contest among Kumaranna, Yoganna and Revanna,” a local journalist, who did not wish to be named, said.
In Ramanagara, of the 1970s’ Sholay fame, the selection of Congress candidate Iqbal Hussain, a confidant of energy minister D K Shiva Kumar, has stumped even those in the party, lending credence to allegations of match-fixing among the two prominent Vokkaliga leaders – Kumaraswamy and Shivakumar — of the district.
JD(S) insiders say Kumaraswamy announced his decision to contest from Channapatna and Ramanagara to take down Yogeshwara. “Anitha Kumaraswamy lost the previous time when she contested from Channapatna and hence, senior leaders were apprehensive of giving her a ticket. Besides, Kumaraswamy did not want his family members to contest,” the source said.
Sources in the Congress say an unspoken agreement prevails in Ramanagara, where the JD(S) does not field strong candidates in Kanakapura and Channapatna, and the Congress would field a weak candidate in Ramanagara and Magadi, and together they want to put an end to Yogeshwara’s control over Channapatna.
According to observers, the Vokkaliga votes are crucial to victory in both constituencies as they comprise half of the electorate, while Muslims and Scheduled Castes too play a decisive role.
The promise of development, however, is unlikely to strike a chord with the electorate. When TOI visited various villages in Ramanagara and Channapatna, many people accused Kumaraswamy and Yogeshwara of being underachievers, especially in terms of helping silk farmers and ensuring drinking water.
“I’m a first-time candidate. But what has Kumaraswamy done in the past 15 years other than building a mini Vidhana Soudha and developing some main roads?” asks H Leelavati, BJP candidate from Ramanagara. She says she is confident of winning as there is a serious anti-incumbency surge against Kumaraswamy, who has not only been inaccessible but also a poor performer.