From 1978 onwards, only two candidates have shared the seat between them at Hangal
As campaign fever is catching up in villages of Hangal taluk, which will go to bypolls on October 30, the mainstream political parties have designed their campaign strategy based on caste lines in the constituency, where the electorate has not favoured any one political party continuously.
What is interesting in the constituency is that from 1978 onwards, only two candidates have shared the seat between them. While one is the former Minister C.M. Udasi (BJP) who won six times and whose demise has necessitated the byelection, the other one is former Minister Manohar Tahasildar (Congress) who after having represented the constituency four times is out of the race now.
In a constituency where Lingayat community is numerically strong, it has been witnessed that consolidated votes of other communities have tilted the victory in favour of the non-Lingayat candidates. As if in a bid to stop any such consolidation, the BJP has lined up leaders from every community to canvass for it. The party has come out with its own assessment of number of voters belonging to various castes and communities which puts Lingayats on the top with an estimated over 70,000 voters. As per its assessment, Muslim voters are second in line, which however is disputed by some. According to political observers, the JD(S) choice of Muslim candidate for Hangal is probably based on this number.
The next in line are the voters of scheduled castes, closely followed by members of Gangamatastha community. According to a rough estimate, both Maratha and Scheduled Tribes have over 10,000 votes each and the Congress candidate belongs to Maratha community. And the next in line are the Kuruba voters with over 6,000 voters followed by members of Kamati and Brahmin community of around 3,000 each, as per calculation of the political parties.
And based on this calculation, the BJP has lined up leaders of every community with sizeable number of voters in the constituency. As Lingayat community is demographically strong in the constituency, BJP has appointed Ministers Murugesh Nirani, B.C. Patil, J.C. Madhuswamy, MP Shivakumar Udasi, MLAs Arunkumar Guttur, Virupakshappa Ballari, and office-bearer Mahesh Tenginakai as election-in-charge for Hangal. On second thoughts, BJP added B.Y. Vijayendra, son of former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to the Hangal list. MLC N. Ravikumar is already camping in the constituency to woo the electorate of backward classes and Ministers Sriramulu, K.S. Eshwarappa, B. Basavaraju, and Govind Karjol will do their bit.
Meanwhile, the Congress is banking on Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah and the poll strategy of KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar who are being assisted on the ground by KPCC working president Satish Jarkiholi. Senior leaders and former Ministers H.K. Patil, S.R. Patil, and MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar are doing her bit to woo the Lingayat electorate. Muslim leaders from Congress U.T. Khader and Saleem Ahmed have been given the responsibility of winning over the Muslim voters.
As the JD(S) has field a Muslim candidate, their task seems to be bit hard. JD(S), which had good base in the constituency three decades ago, has lost it completely and now former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has taken up the herculean task of regaining it through a Muslim candidate, whose candidature however, seems to be more beneficial to the BJP.