BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa has witnessed a resounding victory once again in the Shikaripura constituency. The 75-year-old leader decimated opponents fighting for this central Karnataka seat and has emerged victorious with 61,971 votes (as of 11.50 am, according to the EC.)
The Congress's Goni Malthesh has come second and with over 37,554 votes. The JD(S)'s H Balegar was pushed to third place with 10,120 votes. Charges of corruption against him does not seem to have not affected his electoral prowess.
From the very beginning, there was no doubt in the mind of the BJP that the people of this constituency in Shivamogga district will vote in their favour. Yeddyurappa has won in seven Assembly elections from Shikaripura, since 1983, losing only once in between to the Indian National Congress candidate in 1999 by a slim margin of 7.1%.
Even in 2013, when he left the BJP for not backing him amidst charges of corruption and nepotism â€” he defeated his nearest rival HS Shanthaveerappa Gowda of the Congress. He had floated his own party, the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) and stood as its representative.
That year, the constituency saw a polling percentage of 80.24% with 1,38,616 residents casting their votes. Yeddyurappa polled 69,126 votes while the Congress which was the runner up, saw its candidate HS Shanthaveerappa Gowda poll 44,701 votes. The margin of victory for the then KJP leader was 24,425 votes.
This came as no surprise because Yeddyurappa, particularly during his reigns in power as Deputy Chief Minister (2006-2007) and Chief Minister (2008-2011), was responsible for accelerated development in the constituency. Shikaripura, which was an agricultural town, transformed into an aspiring city with malls, big hotels, hospitals, call centres and financial institutions under Yeddyurappa's watch. The constituency got better roads, infrastructure and even an engineering college run by the former CM's family trust.
A railway project, a bigger drinking water network and employment opportunities are amongst the promises made by Yeddyurappa this time around.
The BJP leader also commands the support of both the Lingayat and Lambani communities, which reportedly control a considerable portion of the vote share.
The JD(S) and Congress too had attempted to woo voters using the caste card. While H Balegar is a member of the scheduled tribe Valmiki Nayak community, Goni Malthesh, like Siddaramaiah, belongs to the Kuruba community. Their strategy however, seems to have been inadequate to stop BJP's Yeddyurappaâ€™s victory.