Phase 3: BJP eyes sweep in 14 Karnataka seats, Cong confident

The 14 seats located in the north Karnataka region are considered BJP’s bastion and in 2019 it won all the seats. However, this time Congress is aiming for a good show, a report by M.K. Ashoka

Campaigning for 14 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka going to polls in the third phase of elections on May 7 will come to an end on Sunday evening.

The 14 seats located in the north Karnataka region are considered BJP’s bastion and in 2019 it won all the seats. However, this time Congress is aiming for a good show.

The plethora of issues, including the sensational murder case of MCA student Neha Hiremath, the obscene video scandal involving former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s grandson, JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna and arrested son H.D. Revanna, Muslim reservation in OBC quota, Congress’ inheritance law and redistribution of wealth plans, drought, promises of guarantees, are likely to impact the mind-set of the voters.

A total of 227 candidates, including 21 women and 117 independents, are contesting the 14 Lok Sabha seats. The total number of voters is 2.59 crore (2,59,17,493).

The political heavyweights such as former Chief Ministers Basavaraj Bommai & Jagadish Shettar, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister for State Bhagwanth Khuba, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge’s son-in-law Radhakrishna Doddamani, former CM B.S. Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Raghavendra, former DyCM & ex-Speaker Vishweshvara Hegde Kageri and expelled BJP leader K.S. Eshwarappa are contesting.

The results are crucial for the political careers of Union Minister Pralhad Joshi (Dharwad), Jagdish Shettar (Belagavi), Eshwarappa (Shivamogga), Radhakrishna Doddamani (Kalaburagi). It is a matter of prestige also for Kharge and Yediyurappa to ensure the victories of their son-in-law and son respectively.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, DyCM D.K. Shivakumar, BJP State President B.Y. Vijayendra, Yediyurappa, Leader of the Opposition R. Ashoka and other prominent leaders are carrying out the last leg of the campaign.

The 14 Lok Sabha seats are Chikkodi, Belagavi, Kalaburagi, Bagalkot, Vijayapura, Haveri, Davanagere, Kalaburagi, Raichur, Koppal, Bidar, Ballary, Dharwad in north Karnataka, the hilly district of Shivamogga and the coastal district of Uttara Kannada.

The sitting ministers in the state have fielded their kin in the election and want to launch them into national politics. Karnataka Minister for Women and Child Welfare Laxmi Hebbalkar’s son Mrinal Hebbalkar is fielded from Belagavi and is taking on former CM and BJP candidate Shettar.

Priyanka Jarkiholi, daughter of Minister for PWD Satish Jarkiholi is taking on BJP’s Anna Saheb Jolle in the Chikkodi seat. Sagar Khadre, son of Minister for Forest Eshwar Khandre is pitched against Union Minister of State Khuba from Bidar. Samyukta Patil, daughter of state Minister for Agricultural Marketing Shivanand Patil is contesting against BJP’s senior leader P.C. Gaddigoudar from Bagalkot.

Former Union Minister G.M. Siddeshwar’s wife Gayathri Siddeshwar has been allotted a BJP ticket from Davanagere. She is pitched against Prabha Mallikarjun, wife of Kannada superstar Dr. Shivarajkumar and sister of state Minister for Education Madhu Bangarappa. She is the daughter of the late CM S. Bangarappa.

Internal fighting is affecting both national parties. However, the BJP is confident of retaining all 14 Lok Sabha seats and repeating the feat of the 2019 general election. The Congress party is also optimistic of getting benefits from its guarantee schemes this time.

The Neha Hiremath case will likely polarize the Hindu vote, especially the influential Lingayat community towards the BJP. The Congress is calculating that the Prajwal Revanna episode will benefit them.

Complaint against BJP leader’s video 

Karnataka Congress has filed a complaint to the Election Commission against BJP national president JP Nadda, social media in-charge Amit Malviya, and state chief BY Vijayendra for allegedly posting a video on social media aimed at “intimidating” members of Schedule Caste/ Schedule Tribe to not vote for Congress in the Lok Sabha polls.

In a complaint filed to the Chief Electoral Officer in Bengaluru, the party also alleged the violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by using animated videos of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah by portraying the Congress party as favouring a particular religion (Muslims) and suppressing members of SC/STs and OBC communities, with the intention to create feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will against members of the SC/ST community.

Ramesh Babu, Chairman, Media and Communication of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), said in the complaint, “… the tenor of video… is in nature of intimidating persons belonging to SC/ST Community that leaders of Congress party are likely to favour Muslims at cost of SC/ST Community. Since, elections to Lok Sabha is being held on 07/05/2024 in 14 constituencies, the video post of BJP on their official social media handle is nothing but intimidating SC/ST community not to cast a vote to Congress. This is a clear case of intimidating SC/ST community members and further projecting SC/ST community people in a bad light showing them as ‘Eggs’ and being kicked by another religion i.e., Muslims.”

The complaint,further said, “It is unfathomable as to how the State Level Media Monitoring committee approved this video to be uploaded by BJP. In the event of non-certification, why no action has been initiated for using an animated image/video of Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah and also defaming the SC/ST and OBC community people by projecting them as ‘EGG.'”

The Congress in its complaint further claimed that the intent of posting video by the BJP on it’s official X handle appears to be to seek votes in Lok Sabha Elections by projecting Congress party to be favouring Muslim community.

“However, the act of J.P.Nadda, National President- Bharatiya Janata Party, Amit Malviya National Social Media Incharge Bharatiya Janata Party, BY Vijayendra-State President-Karnataka BJP and Social Media incharge- Karnataka BJP is to portray the SC and ST Community in derogatory manner and the act showing SC and ST community being “kicked” by another religion (Muslim) is with an intent to prevent or intimidate a member of Schedule caste or tribe to not vote for a particular candidate attracting offense punishable under Section 3(L)(A) of SC/ST POA Act 1989. It is clear that the video on social media posted by aforesaid persons is to intimidate members of SC/ST community not to vote for Congress party by projecting that funds reserved for them will be usurped by Muslims,” the complaint said.

A day before, the official X handle of BJP Karnataka had posted an animated video with the caption “Beware.. Beware.. Beware..!” in Kannada. The video showed caricatures of Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah placing an egg with “Muslims” written on it in a nest along with three eggs marked as “SC, ST and OBC.”

The video further showed the caricature of Rahul Gandhi feeding “funds” only to the bird that hatched out of the “Muslim” egg. (ANI)

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