By M.K. Ashoka
Bengaluru, Jan 21 (IANS): The north Karnataka region known for harmony and peaceful co-existence plays an important role in shaping the political scenario of the state.
Consisting of 13 districts, the voting pattern has seen a paradigm shift. The region, which was a Congress bastion, is now rallying behind the state's ruling BJP.
The BJP wins a major chunk of seats from north Karnataka and Congress is struggling to return to its days of glory. The JD (S) has managed to show its existence. It appears, though, that cracks have developed in the Lingayat vote bank this time, giving an opportunity to the Congress.
Among the 224 Assembly seats, the region has more than 100. A major chunk of seats are won by the BJP.
After the elevation of Mallikarjun Kharge as the Congress President, the party is hoping to make a comeback.
Political analysts explain that Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Kharge's combination will make magic for the party in north Karnataka region.
The ruling BJP in the state draws its core strength from north Karnataka and garners a major chunk of seats from the region.
Lingayat votes, which play an important role in elections in the region, were garnered by the BJP under the leadership of former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, a Lingayat strongman.
However, the ensured vote bank appears to be shaky this time.
A change of guard in the leadership, hostile posture of Lingayat seer Basava Jaya Mrutyunjaya Swamiji of Panchamasali sub sect, a war of words between senior BJP leaders of the region seems to affect the ruling BJP.
Gali Janardhana Reddy's new party Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha is also likely to pose a challenge to both Congress and BJP.
Janardhana Reddy has stated that in spite of national parties not attaching any importance, his party would make an impact in the upcoming Assembly elections.
The Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha is likely to disturb national parties in Kalyan Karnataka region comprising districts of Raichur, Koppal, Kalaburagi, Bidar, Yadgir, Ballary and Vijanaynagara.
Basava Jaya Mrutyunjaya Swamiji has attacked Chief Minister Basavaraja Bommai for failing to give reservation for Panchamasali sub sect under OBC quota. Vijayapura BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal stated that it is a failure on part of Bommai and he has disappointed the community.
Minister for Large and Medium Industries Murugesh Nirani had charged that the Lingayat seer is acting on the behalf of the Congress.
However, the agitation for reservation is being taken up for years and the issue is likely to hit the prospectus of BJP in the upcoming elections, say analysts.
The BJP has got a shot in the arm by approving DPR for Kalasa-Banduri project which will mitigate the drinking water problem in major districts of north Karnataka.
The Congress has also organised a massive rally for speedy implementation of the project.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kalaburagi and Yadgir districts this month and laying the foundation stone and inauguration of more than Rs 10,000 crore for development works in the region is seen as an attempt to outreach to the people of North Karnataka.
The BJP is expecting a boost in 41 constituencies of the region.
Experts say that this time, it won't be a cake walk for the saffron part in north Karnataka. However, the BJP camp is upbeat and confident that the Hindutva agenda will work for them.