It is a star studded show in Karnataka as elections to the last 11 of the state’s 28 seats are held on Thursday. Most of the important leaders of the state will have their fates decided in this round.
They include former prime minister and Janata Dal (S) chief H. D. Deve Gowda (77) contesting from Hasan; former Congress union minister B. Janardhan Poojary from Dakshina Kannada and former film star turned Congress minister M.H. Ambareesh.
But the contest that has rivetted the state’s attention is that of former state chief minister S. Bangarappa, 77, now with the Congress, against B.Y. Raghavendra, 36, the son of present chief minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa in Shimoga.
Disregarding loud murmurs of protest from his own party workers that he was promoting dynastic politics, Yeddyurappa has visited Shimoga at least a dozen times in the past month to campaign for his son, paying it more attention than any other seat in the state.
“I have practiced batting and bowling for the last 45 days,” said Raghavendra, preferring cricketing terminology on his last day of campaigning.
“I’m ready for the contest.” Another key seat will be Dakshina Kannada, as Mangalore has been renamed following the delimitation exercise.
What impact will the Hindu-Christian tensions of the past year in this region have on the elections? Coastal Karnataka may have become a BJP bastion in recent years, but curiously the BJP’s Naleen Kateel, Poojary’s main opponent, seemed to prefer to douse communal fires than stoke them.
An associate of his claimed that Christians had no grievances against the BJP, since they understood that the church attacks last year had only been against aggressively evangelist groups like the New Life group, which was denigrating Hindus, and not against Christians in general.