Explainer Politics

Why Is Siddaramaiah Contesting From Kolar?

Siddaramaiah

With Karnataka Assembly Elections closer to reality now, the political temperature in the state is soaring. This time Congress has taken a lead in launching its campaigning. The party has started its Bus Yatra campaign that began from Belagavi today. The campaign is called Prajadhwani. Under this campaign, Congress is bringing out a chargesheet against the incumbent BJP govt. The state govt led by Basavaraj Bommai is already mired with corruption charges, the controversy of the Contractor’s suicide, and 40% commission allegations. Amid this, Congress is hopeful of making a comeback in the state. Now, this campaign of Congress is being heralded by two of its strong leaders: State president DK Shivakumar and former CM of the state and current LoP Siddaramaiah.

Today, however, we are going to focus on Siddaramaiah. No one can deny that he is today one of the most popular congress leaders in the state and has unparalleled mass support, this was very evident from his 75th birthday celebrations held last year touted as Siddaramotsava. Just a few days ago, ending suspicion SIddaramaioah made a very important announcement. On a public stage, he announced where he is going to contest in the upcoming elections. Although, the announcement came with a rider that it is subject to approval from the party.

Interestingly, this is not the constituency he contested from in 2018. So why does Siddaramaiah want to contest from Kolar? Is he choosing a safe seat? and will Congress approve his will or say the announcement?

During his visit to Kolar on January 9 surrounded by party leaders and workers Siddaramaiah announced that he will contest the upcoming election from the constituency. ‚ÄúI have decided to file my candidature from Kolar for the next Assembly elections. This is subject to approval by the high command,‚ÄĚ Siddaramaiah said.

In 2018, it wasn’t until April that he announced his candidature from two seats. This time, his announcement came pretty early. Siddaramaiah’s announcement Also comes on the back of criticism from his opponents that he never sticks to one constituency and is in constant search for a safe seat. That despite being CM and one of the tallest state leaders he couldn’t create his stronghold. And they aren’t wrong.

Siddaramaiah’s Constituency Hopping

In the past two decades, Siddaramaiah has changed multiple constituencies. He entered the state assembly in 1983 after winning election from Chamundeshwari constituency. This seat falls in Mysore district. He was then a Janata Dal candidate. However, after he joined Congress, he still contested from the seat until 2008. In 2008, following delimitation, a new constituency was created called Varuna. He contested elections from the seat and won. In 2013, he contested from the same seat. In 2018, however, he returned to his old constituency of Chamundeshwari. He vacated the Varuna seat which was considered safe bet for his son, yathindra Siddaramaiah. However, he was faced with stiff competition in Chamundeshwari from JDS’ GT Devegowda. So sensing the threat, the then CM decided to contest from another constituency: i.e. Badami in Bagalkot district. In Badami he contested opposite BJP’s B Sriramulu and won with a narrow margin. The second seat became a saving grace for him as he lost Chamundeshwari. In 2018 he chose two constituencies to contest from. One in north Karnataka and another in South Karnataka. So it was natural for his opponents and supporters to question whether he will do the same now. But putting all the speculations to rest, he has announced that he will be contesting from Kolar.

Why is He Giving Up Badami?

While he won from badami last time, Siddaramaiah says that the constituency is far from bengaluru. Because of his age he cannot frequently travel to his constituency. Travel time also seems to be one of the reasons why he is choosing Kolar. The constituency is about one hour from the state capital bengaluru.

Why Kolar? 

Well, according to reports, there were different constituencies for consideration. That included Chamrajpet, Koppal and Kolar. Chamrajpet sitting MLA¬†Zameer Ahmed Khan who is Siddaramaiah’s close aide was even ready to vacate his seat but after the controversy over Eidgah maidan, Siddharamaiah’s opponent levelled allegations of Muslim appeasement on him. The BJP even mockingly tried to portray him as¬†Sidramulla Khan.¬† Moreover, taking off from the Ranagayana play, The Real Dreams of Tipu Sultan, the BJP was also trying to release a book titled ‚ÄėSiddaramaiah‚Äôs real dreams‚Äô and portray him as Tipu Sultan. So to, not let the label stick to him, Siddaramaiah is understood to have avoided the constituency of Chamrajpet.

On the other hand Kolar is a pretty favourable constituency for him given its caste composition. Kolar falls in AHINDA populated belt, making it a preferred seat for the Former CM.

What is AHINDA?

AHINDA is an acronym for Alpasankhyataru (Minorities), Hindulidavaru (Backward Classes) and Dalitaru (Dalits). The congress under Siddaramaiah;’s leadership in 2013 decided to focus on these communities for social/caste engineering. In Karnataka, Lingayats and Vokkaligas are the two largest vote banks. Ahinda is an attempt to consolidate rest of the communities to counter the dominance of these two communities in electoral politics of the state.

Also Read: ‚ÄúBJP, RSS Dividing Country, Putting One Religion Against Other‚ÄĚ: Rahul Gandhi‚Äôs Reason To Start Bharat Jodo Yatra

Kolar’s Caste Arithmetic

According to Chanakyya data, the constituency has approximately 47,726 SC Voters which is around 21.08% as per 2011 Census. ST voters are approximately 9,418 which is around 4.16%. MUSLIM voters are approximately 65,204 which is around 28.8%.

Not only that, the constituency has about 25000 voters from Kuruba community, the community from which Siddaramaiah hails..

Not only AHINDA and Kuruba votes, Siddaramaiah also has support from Vokkaliga leader Krishna Byregowda, former speaker Ramesh Kumar and others on this decision.

The district also has several strong leaders from Congress, most of whom are supporters of Siddaramaiah. The neighbouring constituencies like Bangarpet, Malur and Srinivasapura have Congress legislators and the party and booth-level workers from there will bolster Siddaramaiah’s campaign in Kolar.

Secondly, the sitting MLA of Kolar srinivas Gowda from JDs who has been flirting with Congress has shown willingness to vacate the seat for Sidda.

Threat in Kolar

There are two types of obstacles for Siddaramaiah in Kolar. One from within his own party. Kolar’s Dalit leader and Congress’ former MP from the seat Muniyappa. Reportedly. he is upset that he did not receive support of Siddaramaiah camp for his parliamentary bid. But some other reports suggest that before making a decision, Siuddaramaiah had a meeting with Muniyappa and secured his support.

The other threat comes from Varthur prakash, In 2018, Varthur prakash contested as congress candidate against Srinivas Gowda. He too is a leader from Kuruba community. Later he joined BJP and is now confident that he will get a ticket from BJP. If that happenes then Kuruba votes in kolar may be divided. Although, one thing that Siddaramaiah can be relived about is that BJP has no strong base in Kolar.

For Siddaramaiah this election is almost a do or die situation. The BJP is looking to put all pressure so as to defeat Siddaramaiah or at least keep him busy in his constituency so he cannot campaign for the party and other candidates outside it. On the other hand, if he loses the election, he also might as well lose his dominance in the party. Currently, there is a power struggle between him and DK Sivakumar in the party.

But Siddharamaiah is a seasoned politician and knows how to flex muscles. His 75th birthday celebration was nothing short of it. He celebrated it in Davangere with Lakhs of supporters the celebration was even named as Siddaramotsava. So at 75, Siddharamaiah is gearing up for the next important electoral battle. Will he succeed or not?

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