K’taka’s Dharwad constituency : A do or die battle for Union Minister Pralhad Joshi
- The Dharwad Assembly constituency in north Karnataka, where sitting MLA and BJP leader Amrut Desai is fighting a tough battle against Vinay Kulkarni, is turning into a do or die battle for Union Minister Prahlad Joshi who is an MP from the region.
Dharwad: The Dharwad Assembly constituency in north Karnataka, where sitting MLA and BJP leader Amrut Desai is fighting a tough battle against Vinay Kulkarni, is turning into a do or die battle for Union Minister Prahlad Joshi who is an MP from the region.
There are allegations that Joshi was one of the leaders instrumental in denying a ticket to Jagadish Shettar, Lingayat strongman and former Chief Minister from his traditional bastion Hubbali.
Even though anti-incumbency and alleged arrogance of Amrut Desai is a worrying factor for the BJP, it was Joshi who had arranged a seat for the sitting MLA being his protege.
Joshi had justified this with the theory that with Congress fielding former MLA Kulkarni, the saffron party does not have any other choice but to field Desai.
Kulkarni was a two term MLA from Dharwad who had won the seat as an independent candidate in 2004 and as a Congress candidate in 2013.
He is currently banned from entering the constituency after being arraigned in a murder case of BJP worker Yogishgouda Gowdar in 2016 and is presently out on bail.
The CBI had arrested Kulkarni in 2020 after taking over the case in 2019 following agitations by Joshi and local BJP members demanding a CBI probe.
Kulkarni got bail in 2021 from the Supreme Court. However, the apex court denied him permission to enter Dharwad district.
The former MLA and his wife Shivaleela, who is spearheading his campaign in his absence, are highlighting on the BJP’s politics of hate and victimisation and trying to arouse sympathy factor in the constituency.
While both Vinay and Amrut are from Lingayat subsect, Panchamasali, the former has a soft corner within the community as they feel that it was Kulkarni who had spearheaded the movement to include Panchamasali Lingayats in 2B reservation quota.
Several senior leaders of the BJP in Dharwad are quiet after the ill-treatment meted out to Shettar who has a spotlessly clean image across north Karnataka and this will also affect the prospects of Desai.
Sources in the BJP told IANS that former MLA Seema Masuti has shied away from the campaign, while several other leaders in Dharwad quit the saffron party.
Another factor plaguing the powerful Lingayat community in entire North Karnataka is that Joshi — a Brahmin had colluded with another fellow Brahmin — BJP’s national General Secretary B.L. Santhosh to deny a seat to Shettar.
If Desai loses in Dharwad, it will be a major setback for Joshi knowing fully well that other major communities in the highly caste conscious state will not accept a Brahmin being put up as a Chief Ministerial candidate.