Shikaripura constituency in Shimoga district has become a battleground for supremacy between two heavyweights and former Chief Ministers B S Yeddyurappa and S Bangarappa in the current round of Karnataka assembly polls.
BJP's chief ministerial candidate Yeddyurappa and the charismatic Bangarappa will lock horns on May 16 in the second phase of assembly polls.
A four-time Lok Sabha member from Shimoga and a seven- time MLA from Soraba in the district, Bangarappa, who is heading the state unit of Samajwadi party, is backed by the Congress and JDS.
Bangarappa, who has not been keeping well in recent months, said he was confident of winning the seat. "I have not sought the support of other political parties but many have come forward to stand behind me to thwart the growth of communal forces in the district", Bangarappa said. He joined the BJP prior to the 2004 general elections but later joined hands with Samajwadi Party.
Insiders say Bangarappa felt "humiliated" when he was in the BJP and the decision to contest against Yeddyurappa is seen in some quarters as an attempt by him to "settle a few scores".
Congress and JDS were too happy to join forces with Bangarappa in his attempt to put Yeddyurappa on the mat. Yeddyurappa is banking on the support of members of his community -- Lingayat -- who number 55,000 in an electorate of 1.61 lakh, while Bangarappa is pinning his hopes on SCs and STs, minorities and backward classes. "I am 100 per cent confident that I am going to get more than 70 per cent of the votes", Yeddyurappa told PTI in the midst of hectic campaigning in rural areas of the segment. The BJP leader represented Shikaripura constituency five times.
Supporters of Bangarappa say the politician would not have entered the fray without a game-plan, and claim he can spring a surprise. "There is no doubt that Bangarappa has a certain committed votebank", an analyst said.