Davanagere Lok Sabha Polls: This Karnataka Constituency Is All About the Families

Davanagere, one of Karnataka’s 28 Lok Sabha seats, is made up of eight assembly segments that are dispersed over the districts of Vijaynagara and Devanagere. The political parties represented in the assembly are the Congress at Jagalur, the Independent at Harapanahalli, the BJP in Harihar, the Congress at Davanagere North and South, the Congress at Mayakonda, the Congress at Channagiri, and the Congress at Honnali. GM Siddeshwara of the BJP is currently the MP, and candidates running for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are Vinay Kumar GB (Independent), Gayathri Siddeshwar of the BJP, and Prabha Mallikarjun of the Congress. Phase 3 voting in the constituency is scheduled for May 7, with results to be announced on June 4.

BJP Banks on Modi and Development: Since 1999, the BJP has controlled the Davanagere Lok Sabha seat consistently. Senior politician GM Siddeshwara has served as the constituency’s Lok Sabha representative since 2004. The task of winning the seat has been given to his wife, Gayathri Siddeshwara, by the BJP this time. With regard to the Lok Sabha elections, Davanagere represents a type of BJP stronghold that no other party has been able to penetrate since 1999. On the other hand, the Congress has MLAs in six of the assembly seats. The only assembly seat that the BJP might win in the 2023 elections is Harihar. In contrast, an independent candidate prevailed in Harapanahali. In each of the next portions, the Congress won. Because of this, the Grand Old Party is now more optimistic about its chances in the current elections. Voters are generally satisfied with the BJP’s development goals. People are mostly benefiting from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s key programmes, which include housing, connections for tap water and power, free rations, LPG connections, health insurance, and other necessities.

The challenges facing the BJP: But the BJP has also had its share of issues in this regard. First, the party is defending itself against claims that Gayathri Siddeshwara’s family has controlled Davanagere politics for many years. Her father-in-law, G. Mallikarjunappa, served as the constituency’s representative from 1996 to 1998 and again from 1999 to 2004. Her spouse has been a member of Parliament since 2004. In actuality, some powerful politicians in the constituency, including former minister SA Ravindranath, MP Renukacharya, and G Karunakara Reddy, were incensed by the BJP’s choice to field Gayathri Siddeshwara. The three even planned a protest gathering where protesters chanted anti-Gayathri Siddeshwara chants. Subsequently, the rebels requested that the BJP’s top leadership substitute a different candidate. The BJP’s split house was reunited thanks to BS Yediyurappa’s efforts. After meeting for three hours on March 26, a group of BJP officials, including Yediyurappa, a member of the parliamentary board, managed to put an end to the uprising in the party’s district unit. As a result, SA Ravindranath has been given the responsibility for this election. The constituency is thought to have gained over 50,000 new voters, the majority of whom are young. Veerashiva-Lingayats and Kurubas inhabit the constituency in similar numbers, followed by Muslims, Dalits, Valmiki Nayakas, Upparas, Devangas, and other groups. Ensuring Hindu voter cohesion is critical for the saffron party. The BJP continues to place the biggest premium on the Lingayat vote.

Congress Is Optimistic: The Congress is riding high after winning the Karnataka assembly elections the previous year. Furthermore, the Congress was able to secure six Davanagere assembly districts. This seems to have given the party hope that it can overcome the BJP. The Congress is making a strong impression on the ground. Though the race itself may be close, the Congress campaign seems more prominent and memorable. The BJP is under fire from the Congress because Gayathri Siddeshwara, the saffron candidate, comes from a powerful family that has controlled the politics of the area for many years. The irony in this situation is that Prabha Mallikarjun, the Congress candidate, comes from a powerful political family as well. The families of the Congress and BJP candidates are, in reality, linked to one another. SS Mallikarjun, the spouse of Prabha Mallikarjun, has a ministerial position in the state’s Congress administration.

Rebellion within the ranks: The internal conflict inside the BJP seems to have subsided, but the Congress confronts a much more serious revolt that might harm the party’s chances come election day. Some Congressmen have expressed disapproval of the choice to field Prabha Mallikarjun, notably Vinay Kumar GB. Insights IAS was founded by the constituency’s rising politician, Vinay Kumar. His base of young voters has risen significantly. Vinay Kumar is seen by the Congress as a major obstacle to their win in Davanagere. As an independent, he is predicted to significantly reduce the vote share held by Congress. Vinay Kumar, GB, hoped he would be awarded the Davanagere Congress ticket. But when Prabha Mallikarjun was selected, Vinay Kumar became infuriated and thought that the fact that he didn’t have a relative serving as a state cabinet minister played a major role in the decision not to nominate him. For this reason, Vinay Kumar was not persuaded to rescind his nomination, even after repeated efforts by Congress and Siddaramaiah’s personal involvement. Senior Congressman Shamanur Shivashankarappa, an MLA for Davangere South, made a really repugnant statement against the BJP candidate in the meantime. During a party workers’ meeting, Shivashankarappa criticized Siddeshwara’s credentials, saying that she couldn’t successfully handle public concerns. In a chauvinist statement about women in general, he continued, saying, “They know only to cook in the kitchen.”

Key Issues: Airport Demand: To enhance the constituency’s connection with other regions of the state and the nation at large, the residents of Davanagere have been requesting an airport here for a while now. Five new airports are being constructed at Shivamogga, Vijayapura, Hassan, Raichur, and Karwar, according to information disclosed by former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai last year. Additionally, he said that the feasibility studies for the airports at Koppal and Davanagere were finished. It remains to be seen, however, whether these two airports will experience any more growth. Therefore, one of the main requests of the voters in Davanagere has not yet been met. It’s noteworthy that Davanagere is called the “Manchester of Karnataka.” People on the ground are perplexed as to why the constituency does not yet have its own airport, even with such a high price tag.

Special Economic Zone: Davanagere voters are in favor of the establishment of a special economic zone inside their district. The constituency was once known as Karnataka’s “industrial hub.” But this center has been dulling over the last year. The majority of the district’s industries, notably Anjaneya Cotton Mill, have closed. It is hoped that by establishing a special economic zone, businesses will be encouraged to establish themselves in the area.

Unemployment and Migration: Davanagere’s already dire unemployment condition has been made worse by the industry’s exit. When there are no work possibilities, individuals are being driven to search for jobs throughout the state and nation.

municipal Issues: People also like to see Davanagere’s municipal infrastructure improved. The constituency’s health infrastructure is in need of improvement, while the education situation seems to be mostly resolved. In addition, there are grievances raised about the unequal pace of growth. For instance, it is said that North Davanagere is not witnessing the same level of growth as South Davanagere. In a similar vein, there’s worry about the constituency’s border regions being overlooked.

Hindutva: It is anticipated that religious polarization will increase in intensity now that the Karnataka government has classified Muslims as OBCs. The BJP is hoping that claims that the Congress is a party that prioritizes Muslims will help it in the elections. In the meantime, the BJP’s chances are anticipated to improve due to the Ram Mandir inauguration and its own perception of being deeply ingrained in Sanatan culture. In addition, the BJP has been actively campaigning against Love Jihad lately.

Development: There is broad agreement among Davanagere residents that a significant push for development should be made across the area. The BJP, which has recently virtually solely identified itself with growth and the concept of a “Viksit Bharat,” stands to gain from this. One of the key issues when Davanagere goes to elections is development.

Railways and Vande Bharat: Since 2023, Davanagere has been a part of the Vande Bharat express. The greatest passenger train in India, the Bengaluru-Dharwad Vande Bharat, makes a stopover at the Davanagere railway station, giving locals the opportunity to ride in style. Meanwhile, the Tumakuru-Davangere railway project received Rs 50 crore in funding from the state government in March. From the standpoint of the state’s development, the Tumakuru-Davangere railway project, which will link Tumakuru with central Karnataka and enable speedier commutes to sections of North Karnataka, is significant.

Software Technology Park: The district headquarters town of Davanagere will host the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) center, which was declared by the Karnataka government (during the BJP) in 2022. The 10,000-square-foot center has a 16-seat conference room, a network operations center, a plug-and-play 102-seat incubation facility, as well as accommodations for high-speed data connection facilities and other amenities and services. In the same year, the STPI center in Davanagere hosted the opening of a Digital India start-up cluster by Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

Six-Lane Highway: In 2023, Union Transportation Minister Nitin Gadkari announced plans to build a six-lane national highway between Davangere and Chitradurga. This project is anticipated to improve connectivity between the two Karnataka cities. The federal government will spend Rs 1,400 crore to build the 72-kilometer national highway, which will be constructed utilizing sustainable building techniques. The project is reportedly still under development.

DEMOGRAPHICS 16,34,472 voters in total

328,529 voters (20.1%) in the SC

Voters from ST: 194,502 (11.9%)

1,098,365 (67.2%) voters in rural areas

Voters from cities: 536,107 (32.8%)

Muslims: 16,9%, or 275,887

General Election 2019 Voter Turnout: 73%

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