BJP aims to improve tally, Congress plays Vokkaliga card as 14 seats in K'taka go to polls on Friday

BJP aims to improve tally, Congress plays Vokkaliga card as 14 seats in Ktaka go to polls on Friday

The stage is set for the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Friday when 14 of the 28 parliamentary seats in Karnataka will go to the polls.

Bengaluru: The stage is set for the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Friday when 14 of the 28 parliamentary seats in Karnataka will go to the polls.

The BJP, which managed to win 11 out of these 14 seats in southern Karnataka is hoping for a clean sweep this time.

The Congress party on the other hand is buoyed by the victory in the assembly elections held in 2023 and is relying on its guarantee schemes to upset the apple cart of BJP. Though, vying for the post of the chief minister, CM Siddaramaiah and Dy CM D.K. Shivakumar, have buried the hatchet to ensure a Congress victory.

Countering this, 91-year-old former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda has launched a spirited campaign in the region to ensure the Vokkaliga vote bank stays with the BJP-JD-S alliance.

Shivakumar’s brother D.K. Suresh was the only person to register a victory for the Congress in the entire state in the last general election. The BJP has nominated Dr. C.N. Manjunath for this high profile seat.

Following the tussle between the top leaders and the ground level party workers, incidents of stabbing and attacks, the State Election Commission has doubled the para-military forces in the parliamentary segment. Sources said that the Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha seat will witness a record turnout of voters and whoever wins the margin is going to be very narrow.

Bengaluru South is considered a fortress of the BJP as its candidates have registered victories since the 1991 general elections. The last time the Congress won this seat was in 1989.

Not taking any chances, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had recently held a roadshow in the constituency to ensure the victory of the BJP candidate Tejasvi Surya. On the other hand, Sowmya Reddy, daughter of Minister for Transport Ramalinga Reddy, is hopeful of her victory. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had addressed a public meeting in the Bengaluru South constituency during her visit to Karnataka.

The Bengaluru North voters have been electing BJP candidates continuously since 2004. Union Minister of State Shobha Karandlaje is the BJP candidate while the Congress has fielded academician and former Rajya Sabha member Prof. M.V. Rajeev Gowda. The BJP is eying a victory this time as well while the Congress is hoping that voters would give a chance to Gowda, who was a professor at the IIM-B.

In the Bengaluru Central Lok Sabha seat, the Congress wants to ensure the victory of its only Muslim candidate in the state Mansoor Ali Khan. However, there is an allegation that the top Muslim leaders of the Congress did not take any interest in campaigning for him. BJP candidate P.C. Mohan who has won the seat three consecutive times is confident of winning for the fourth time.

Sources said that there is a close contest in the Hassan Lok Sabha seat and the Congress is hopeful of winning the seat. Former PM H.D. Deve Gowda’s grandson Prajwal Revanna is contesting from the seat as the NDA candidate for the second time. M. Shreyas Patel, grandson of former Congress MP G. Puttaswamy Gowda, is the Congress candidate. The JD-S has held the seat since 2004.

Former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy is pitched as the NDA candidate for the Mandya Lok Sabha seat. The Congress has fielded Venkataramane Gowda aka Star Chandru. Dy CM D.K. Shivakumar has been claiming that he will win this seat.

The Congress had won the seat in the 2013 bye-election. It had also won in the 1999 and 2004 general elections which reflects the strong roots of the party there. In the 2009, 2014, and 2018 by-elections, the JD-S had won the seat. The JD-S had managed to win only one seat out of eight assembly segments in the 2023 assembly elections while the Congress won the rest. However, political heavyweight Kumaraswamy is expecting a big win this time.

The contest in the Mysuru-Kodagu parliamentary seat has become interesting following the use of the Vokkaliga card by the Congress against the royal scion Yaduveer Wadiyar, who is contesting from the BJP. CM Siddaramaiah’s confidante M. Laxman is the Congress candidate.

The Congress has big hopes in the Chamarajanagar reserve Lok Sabha seat. CM Siddaramaiah has taken it as a personal mission to ensure the victory of its candidate Sunil Bose, son of Minister for Social Welfare. The inclination of senior BJP leader and sitting MP V. Srinivas Prasad towards the Congress is upsetting the BJP candidate S. Balaraj, a close associate of former CM B.S. Yediyurappa. The BJP had managed to win the seat for the first time in 2019 by 1,817 votes.

In the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru seat, the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Kota Srinivas Poojari is the BJP candidate. He is taking on senior Congress leader Jayaprakash Hegde. Sources say that though there is a fight, the BJP will sail through.

The Dakshina Kannada LS seat is considered a BJP stronghold. Captain Brijesh Chowta is the BJP candidate. Chowta is taking on Padmaraj, a new face from the Congress party. The BJP has been winning the seat since 1991 and is expecting a big win from here.

There is a close fight between the Congress and the BJP in the Chikkaballapur and Kolar Lok Sabha seats. The BJP’s Dr. K. Sudhakar is facing young face Raksha Ramaiah, who hails from the powerful Ramaiah family in Bengaluru. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed a massive public rally in Chikkaballapur.

The Kolar reserve Lok Sabha seat is also witnessing a tough fight between the NDA and the Congress candidates. However, the Congress has remained a divided house. A cabinet minister, three MLAs and two MLCs of the Congress party created a high drama of tendering their resignations over ticket allotment.

The Congress has chosen a new face K.V. Gowtham and the JD-S has fielded M. Mallesh Babu as the NDA candidate.

The Congress is hopeful of wrestling the Chitradurga Lok Sabha reserve seat. Former Dy CM and Dalit leader Govind Karjol is contesting the seat from the BJP. B.N. Chandrappa is the Congress candidate. The BJP has won the seat twice since 1952. Sitting BJP MP, Union Minister of State A. Narayanaswamy, was denied a ticket.

Hoping to wrest the seat, the Congress had brought Priyanka Gandhi to Chitradurga to address a massive rally. However, the BJP is relying on a Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave.

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