Can BJP Take Control of Congress Citadel?

The Chamarajnagar Lok Sabha constituency has been a strong bastion of the Congress except for three occasions when the Janata Dal (Secular) and Lok Shakti clinched the seat. The last JD(S) candidate to be elected was M Shivanna in 2004. However, he switched his loyalties by cross voting in support of UPA-I during the trust vote moved by the Left against the nuclear deal.

The constituency is home to political stalwarts like B Rachiah, M Rajashekarmurthy, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah (Varuna constituency) ministers V Srinivasa Prasad, H C Mahadevappa and H S Mahadevappa.

The constituency was represented by B Rachiah, S M Siddaiah and V Srinivasa Prasad in the past.

This backward district had hogged the headlines because of several issues like the activities of forest brigand Veerappan and the Hogenakkal row.

The constituency is also a hub of eco tourism with 51 per cent forest cover and high tribal population in Yealandur, H D Kote and Gundlupet.

There are eight Assembly segments of which seven are held by the Congress and one by the JD(S). The constituency is dominated by lower middle class voters, a majority of whom rely on agriculture.

A majority of the population  are Dalits and  Veerashaivas, followed by Upparas, Nayakas, Kurubas and minorities apart from Tamil speakers near the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border.

Strong caste equations has played a major role in previous elections. Being a reserved constituency, all major parties are targeting the majority dalit voters and backward communities.

In a bid to continue its winning streak, the Congress has fielded R Dhruvanarayan, who was elected MLA twice in the past and is known for bringing many centrally sponsored schemes.

BJP’s A R Krishna Murthy, also a two-time MLA, has been fielded to encash on the three consecutive defeats in the elections. JD(S) has fielded former minister M Shivanna from the Madiga community while the BSP has fielded Shivamallu. In all probability, it will be a straight fight between the Congress and BJP as the JD(S) does not have much presence here. Issues

Demand for Cauvery drinking water in villages in drought-hit districts, permanent fencing around Nagarahole, Bandipur, BRT Tiger Reserve and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary to check man-animal conflicts, rail connectivity between Chamrajnagar-Sathyamanagalam-Coimbatore, demarcation of Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border in Hooganekal and development of Kannada schools in the Tamil Nadu border are the major issues here.

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