An interesting contest is on the cards between two former chief ministers, BS Yediyurappa and S Bangarappa, at Shikaripura assembly constituency in Shimoga district.
On Monday, Bangarappa handed in his nomination papers amid whispers of a secret pact among leaders of the Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) to challenge the BJP leader on his home turf.
“I am here to win. I have a large number of supporters, and have polled significant number of votes here in the previous elections (Shikaripura is part of Shimoga parliamentary constituency, from where Bangarappa first won on a BJP ticket in 2004 and retained the seat after he switched over to SP in 2005). Look at the number of people who accompanied me today. They are all confident that I will win,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Later in the day, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda confirmed a joint strategy against Yediyurappa: his party will not field any candidate in that constituency. His justification: the party holds Bangarappa in high esteem and would not come in the way of his electoral success.
On its part, the Congress announced Navilesh Chandrappa as its candidate, but senior party leaders hinted he would withdraw as soon as a seat-sharing pact with the SP fructified. “We are talking to them and likely to clinch an understanding restricted to majority of seats in Shimoga district,” a senior leader told this correspondent.
The agreement came to fore on a day when Yediyurappa launched a personal website as part of the hi-tech campaign in the run-up to next month’s elections. “You will hear about this secret pact between the Congress and JD (S) from leaders like S.M. Krishna and Siddaramaiah. They are not happy and will speak out soon,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Yediyurappa won his first poll in 1983 from Shikaripura and returned again in 1985, 1989, 1994 and 2004. He, however, lost to Mahalingappa of Congress in 1999.