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SHIMOGA -- Bangarappa's saffron avatar to be tested

The Shimoga Lok Sabha seat is set to witness one of the most prestigious Lok Sabha contests in Karnataka -- thanks to former Congress stalwart-turned-BJP torch bearer S Bangarappa.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2004 15:37 IST

The Shimoga Lok Sabha seat is set to witness one of the most prestigious Lok Sabha contests in Karnataka -- thanks to former Congress stalwart-turned-BJP torch bearer S Bangarappa.

The former state chief minister, who represented the seat in 11th and 13th Lok Sabha, is almost sure to be nominated by BJP from here this time, much to the chagrin of Congress. And the saffron party seems sure to get the seat, which it had won for the first time in 1998. Ironically, it was Bangarappa himself, who had lost to BJP candidate Ayanoo Manjunath by a massive 15,9,907 votes.

The Congress is planning to counter S. Bangarappa in Karnataka by inducting his rival A. Manjunath — who defeated the former CM in the 1998 Lok Sabha polls

Bangarappa had won the seat as Congress man in 1999. Then he had drubbed the former MP Ayanur Manjunatha of BJP by 95063 votes in 1999 in a 5-cornered contest.

Bangarappa who walked out of the Congress thrice in the last two decades had won the seat in 1996 as a candidate of the splinter group, the Karnataka Congress Party, which he had later merged back with the Congress.

In 1991 the seat had gone to KG Shivappa of Congress who had trounced BJP's BS Yediyurappa by 40703 votes. In 1989, TV Chandrashekarappa of Congress had defeated M Kotoji Rao of Janata by 140370 votes.

JH Patel, who succeeded Deve Gowda as chief minister, was elected from here in 1967, on the Samyukta Socialist Party ticket. He lost the 1971 and 1977 elections that he fought on the BLD ticket, and presumably gave up his LS ambitions. Nevertheless he has the distinction of being the only non-Congress MP to be elected from here, barring 1996 when the constituency voted resoundingly for a former chief minister, S Bangarappa of the Karnataka Congress Party. In the second place was the BJP with 32.08% of the vote.

The constituency has an electorate of more than 1.7 million, half of whom are women.

Caste equation

Lingayats, who comprise 20% of the electorate and Edigas, who form 18% of the voters are the most dominatn communities in the constituency. Scheduled Castes (16%), Muslims (11%), Brahins (5%), Aki Karnatakas (5%), Banjaras (4%) and Bhovis (4%) also play crucial role in the polls here.