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HomeBreaking NewsKarnataka assembly elections 2023: Will ex-CM Siddaramaiah strike gold in Kolar? |...

Karnataka assembly elections 2023: Will ex-CM Siddaramaiah strike gold in Kolar? | Bengaluru News

BENGALURU: Although he has been the voice of the Congress for over a decade now and is one of few mass leaders in the state, opposition leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah has struggled in recent times in electoral politics. He has been forced to change constituencies on more than one occasion or fight from dual seats to avoid defeat.
This assembly elections are no different. After weighing pros and cons for nearly two years, the 71-year-old Siddaramaiah, who is aspiring to become CM again, has zeroed in on Kolar seat largely due to caste equations in the segment. There were reports that he may contest from another constituency, as he did in 2018 (from Badami and Chamundeshwari), but he dismissed those suggestions.
The Congress stalwart has contested eight elections from Chamundeshwari since 1983 and won five of them. He also won twice (in 2008 and 2013) from neighbouring Varuna before relinquishing the seat to his son, Yathindra.
Siddaramaiah’s confidants believe it will be a cakewalk for him in Kolar. Of the 2.3 lakh voters, 70% belong to Ahinda (a Kannada acronym for minorities, other backward classes, and Dalits) category. There are nearly 30,000 Kuruba voters (OBC), a community to which he belongs.
“Muslim votes (nearly 40,000) will consolidate behind Siddaramaiah since he has been the sole voice of the minority community in the state,” said Saleem Ahmed, KPCC working president. Former council chairman and senior Congress functionary BL Shankar said: “Not just Ahinda, but all other communities are likely to support Siddaramaiah because they see him as a potential CM candidate and they know there will be a bounty if Congress wins.”
Siddaramaiah was persuaded to run from Kolar by his loyalists, former speaker KR Ramesh Kumar and former minister Krishna Byregowda, who hails from the district. JD(S) MLA Srinivas Gowda, who currently represents Kolar and who fell out with his party leadership, has also offered to step aside to facilitate Siddaramaiah’s candidature.
Party sources say the former CM cleared another hurdle by promising a KH Muniyappa, seven-time Kolar MP, a ticket to contest the assembly polls. Muniyappa has been nursing a grudge against Siddaramaiah ever since he lost his MP seat in 2019.
But others – notably former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy of JD(S) – have warned Siddaramaiah against contesting from Kolar. They say he is being made a scapegoat by his own partymen.
Kurubas, on whom Siddaramaiah is relying, are a divided house. While the district Kuruba Sangha’s working president, JK Jayaram, has vowed to support Siddaramaiah, its president, Muniyappa, has decided to back Varthur Prakash, a Kuruba who won twice (in 2008 and 2013) from the seat as an independent. Prakash is likely to run for BJP this time.
JD(S) won Kolar in 2018, bagging 46.2% of the vote, despite fielding a Vokkaliga candidate (Srinivas Gowda). Congress bagged 21.5% of the vote with a Muslim candidate (Syed Zameer Pasha). Now that Srinivas is joining Congress, Siddaramaiah is hoping those votes will shift to him. However, JD(S), led by Kumaraswamy and CM Ibrahim, is expected to go to great lengths to woo Muslim and Vokkaliga voters to dent Siddaramaiah’s fortunes.
There’s also palpable anger among a section of Dalits, largely Muniyappa’s supporters. Vokkaligas too are wary of Siddaramaiah winning since it could deny DK Shivakumar or HD Kumaraswamy the chance of becoming CM.
(With inputs from K Ranganath in Kolar)



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