A nine time-winner in the Assembly polls but a reluctant contestant with half his heart set on the chief minister's post, Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge would be eyeing his maiden win in the parliamentary polls from Gulbarga parliamentary constituency in Karnataka.
Kharge will be testing his undisputed popularity, albeit on a different terrain, when he engages in a straight fight with BJP's Revu Naik Belamagi, who is also a member of the B S Yeddyurappa ministry.
Drawn into the vortex of parliamentary battle much against his wishes, the Congress, which is already facing a spate of desertions, closetted politics and worried by flagging fortunes, has coaxed Kharge, whom it considers as its winning horse here, to jump into the fray.
Dalit leader, Kharge, who has been the winning face of the Congress from Gurmitkal eight times and Chittapur in the 2008 Assembly polls, has this time been fielded from Gulbarga, which has now turned into a reserved constituency for SC.
Though a Congress bastion with voters loyally sending its candidate to the winner's dais (except in 1996 when it preferred the erstwhile Janata Dal and in 1998 when the BJP unfurled its flag here) the constituency has been influenced by the BJP after the party's foray into the state by being voted to office in last year's Assembly polls.
Kharge, who was asked to give up the post of the Leader of the Opposition to placate a sulking Congress leader Siddaramaiah, would be facing Belamagi, a four-time MLA and known among people for his simplicity.