Karnataka CM in contest involving two film actors
A Chief Minister who has changed his constituency for the first time in his more than 40 years old political career Vs two film actors characterises the key electoral tussle in Karnataka's Chamarajpet assembly constituency in the forthcoming election.
The impending high-voltage triangular contest in Chamarajpet segment in the city for the April 20 Assembly polls has indeed now turned into a prestigious and entertaining slug-out.
S M Krishna's decision to seek election from Chamarajpet after "abandoning" his home constituency of Maddur in Mandya district has left many tongues wagging.
And the way he filed his nomination in the last hour of submitting papers after keeping everyone guessing as to from where he would contest, has only contributed to rumour mills being more active on why he chose to shift.
The main opposition parties, BJP and JD(S), have not missed the opportunity in accusing the chief minister of running away from Madur on the fear of losing, a charge Krishna seeks to brush aside categorically.
"One cannot be confined to a constituency. The Chief Minister can choose the constituency depending on exigencies", says Krishna, defending changing the constituency, a move the opposition scornfully sees as an attempt to seek a safe seat.
Krishna also laughs off the suspense and drama surrounding the filing of his nominations. "If you had known that I would contest from Chamarajpet, where would have been the suspense, hype and anxiety", he asks.
Congress' R V Devaraj had won the 1999 elections and has now made the way for Krishna, who rationalises his decision, saying it is easy to interact with people and nurse a constituency in the city, where he lived.
But some observers say the "volatile" politics in Mandya district may have prompted Krishna to move away from Maddur, which had served as the launching pad for his legislative career way back in 1962.
Since then, he has won Assembly poll in 1989 and 1999 and tasted defeat in 1967 and 1994.
The demographic composition of the constituency may also have influenced Krishna's choice, observers note.
Slum-dwellers account for an estimated 25,000 voters, followed by Muslims 16,000 and weavers 15,000 in Chamarajpet, where the total electorate is in excess of 94,000. Many of the close watchers of the electoral scene say odds are in favour of Krishna, who holds a clear edge.
As news of Krishna set to enter fray from Chamarajpet spread, BJP and JD-S of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda made dramatic moves rushing film actors "Mukhyamantri" Chandru, so called because of a role he played as a chief minister, and Ananth Nag to take on the Chief Minister.
Chandru, a member of the Legislative Council and known for his comic roles, is said be a reluctant runner and more keen on campaigning for the party rather than being confined to a constituency.
Ananth Nag, who mostly portrayed matured characters, was the first to get off the blocks in campaigning as he straightaway kicked off door-to-door canvassing. Both Chandru and Ananth Nag have also acted in serials on the small screen.
A former minister, Ananth Nag had faced defeat in the last elections from Malleshwaram. He is going about his campaign in a true cinematic style,
"It would make the contest entertaining", Krishna said of the presence of two actors in the fray.
But confusion over who would be the candidate in Chamarajpet did not help matters for BJP, which had initially fielded Prameela Nesargi, an advocate, who insisted that she is the official party candidate.
But Chandru had submitted the B form and was recognised by the Returning Officer as the official candidate and nomination of Nesargi, who had won from the segment in 1994 and many believe as a stronger candidate that Chandru, was rejected.
Meanwhile, Krishna's decision not to seek re-election from Maddur has irked his brother S M Shankar, MLC, who has voiced resentment publicly over "abandoning" the family's tradition of contesting from there.
Krishna's wife Prema has been a pillar of strength for the Chief Minister and she has said she would canvass for votes for her husband.