Will Cong’s experiment in Karnataka’s Chikkodi LS seat against BJP yield results?

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Will Cong’s experiment in Karnataka’s Chikkodi LS seat against BJP yield results?

Bengaluru: The Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat in Karnataka is all set for a mega clash between a young woman who is a new face and a senior politician with powerful connections in New Delhi.

The BJP has fielded sitting MP, 60-year-old Annasaheb Jolle, while the Congress has opted for 27-year-old Priyanka Jarkiholi.

Interestingly, the Congress is experimenting with a candidate hailing from the ST community against the contestant from the general category here.

The anti-Hindutva statements by PWD Minister, Satish Jarkiholi, who is also Priyanka’s father, are likely to become a major issue in the constituency and prove to be a setback for the Congress.

Jarkiholi claimed that the word ‘Hindu’ has Persian roots and has a vulgar meaning.

He questioned how people could accept the word when it has no connection with India. However, after a major backlash he had to withdraw his statement.

Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat with 17 lakh voters is dominated by SC, ST and OBC groups. Lingayat and Maratha voters also have a significant presence here. The constituency was reserved for the SC category from 1967 to 2009.

The developments in the constituency are being closely watched due to the Congress party’s unusual move of allotting the ticket to an ST candidate in a general category seat.

BJP candidate Annasaheb Jolle’s wife and former minister, Shashikala has won the Assembly election from the Nippani segment.

On the other hand, Priyanka’s father is a close associate of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and won the Yemkanmardi Assembly seat.

Priyanka is an MBA and is involved in social activities through the Jarkiholi Foundation. She had also campaigned for her father in the Assembly elections.

On the other hand, Annasaheb Jolle is not a graduate and has only studied till high school.

Winning the Chikkodi seat has become a matter of prestige as both candidates hail from powerful families of the Belagavi District and a close fight is expected.

Annasaheb Jolle’s supporters are confident that the work done during the tenure of his wife who was a minister in the previous BJP government, will fetch votes.

On top of it, the Lingayat vote bank and the wave in favour of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will ensure their victory.

The Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat comprises Nippani, Chikkodi-Sadalga, Athani, Kagwad, Kudachi, Raybag, Hukkeri and Yemkanmardi Assembly segments.

Among these, the Congress has five Assembly seats and the BJP three. Five segments are represented by general category candidates and three are reserved segments.

The Congress won the Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat continuously till 1991 from 1962. The grand old party made a comeback in 2014 with senior Congress leader Prakash Hukkeri emerging victorious.

Though the party wanted to field Hukkeri or his son MLA Ganesh Hukkeri, both rejected the proposal.

The Janata Dal won the seat in 1996 and 1999 and the Lok Shakti party won it in 1998. BJP wrestled the seat in 2004 and won the seat in the 2009 and 2019 general elections.

Annasaheb Jolle registered a thumping victory with a margin of 3.18 lakh votes in the 2019 general election against Congress candidate Prakash Hukkeri, who polled 4.26 lakh votes.

Satish Jarkiholi has confidently claimed that there is no doubt that Priyanka will emerge victorious. He said that Priyanka had sacrificed her career and was contesting in the Lok Sabha elections to serve the people, while she could have settled down in a foreign country with a good job.

Ashok Chandaragi, social worker and activist, told IANS, “This is the second experiment by the Congress in Belagavi District. Earlier, Priyanka Jarkiholi’s uncle Ramesh Jarkiholi represented the Gokak Constituency, which is a general seat, for the Congress. (Ramesh Jarkiholi is with the BJP at present). The Jarkiholi family is most powerful in Belagavi District. There is an equal fight in the constituency.”

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