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Karnataka Polls: Mallikarjun Kharge, 2 Union ministers in fray in final round

As many as 24.3 million people are eligible to vote. There are 237 candidates in the fray, including nine women candidates.

ET Bureau|
Apr 23, 2019, 07.32 AM IST
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In the 2014 LS polls, the Congress won the Raichur and Chikkodi seats by a thin margin of about 1,500 votes and 3,000 votes, respectively, against BJP candidates.
Bengaluru: Fourteen Lok Sabha seats spread across Hyderabad-Karnataka, Mumbai-Karnataka, central Karnataka and coastal Karnataka regions will go to the polls on Tuesday. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge and Union ministers Ramesh Jigajinagi and Anantkumar Hegde are among the prominent faces in the fray in this final round of polling in the state in this general election.

As many as 24.3 million people are eligible to vote. There are 237 candidates in the fray, including nine women candidates. Last Thursday’s polls saw a voter turnout of 68.52%. The highest turnout of 80.23% was recorded in Mandya seat, where the chief minister’s son, Nikhil Kumaraswamy, faced independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh. Sons of two former CMs, Madhu Bangarappa of JDS and BY Raghavendra (BJP), are locked in a fierce contest. Two-time MP BY Raghavendra is fighting the old rival again and the JDS-Congress camp is upbeat because its candidate lost by about 52,000 votes, which it is hopeful of covering this time. Congress minister DK Shivakumar, famous for pulling victories from the jaws of defeat, is leading the campaign charge.

A big chunk of seats in the third phase of polls fall in the Lingayat belt, the largest community in the state. Vokkaligas, the second largest community, are dominant in areas that went to the polls in the second phase on April 18.

Tuesday’s polls cover the top half of Karnataka, consisting of five seats in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, six seats in the Mumbai-Karnataka region, two seats in central Karnataka and one on the coast bordering Goa. The JDS, which is part of the ruling coalition with the Congress, is contesting in Uttara Kannada and Bijapur, represented by Union ministers Anantkumar Hegde and Ramesh Jigajinagi, respectively. The Congress is backing the JDS in these two seats. The JD(S), however, does not have a significant presence in the two seats, where the BJP traditionally fought the Congress. The JD(S) has fielded Sunita Chavan in Bijapur and Anand Asnotikar in Uttara Kannada.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress won the Raichur and Chikkodi seats by a thin margin of about 1,500 votes and 3,000 votes, respectively, against BJP candidates. The BJP has stepped up efforts to wrest the two seats from the Congress fold. A former government doctor-turned-Congress politician, Umesh Jadhav, has taken on his former mentor Kharge as BJP candidate in Gulbarga.

Jadhav quit the Congress just before the Lok Sabha polls and switched to the BJP in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence. He hopes to cash in on anti-incumbency factor against Kharge. As Kharge himself said, the real fight was between him and Modi. The BJP has, over the years, deepened its footprint in the Mumbai-Karnataka region, where it currently holds five seats.

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