TNN | Apr 23, 2019, 05:56 ISTHaving earned the Kannada sobriquet of ‘Solillada Sardara’ (chieftain who has never lost) after winning 12 elections, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun M Kharge’s 13th election today could be his most difficult yet.

Alongside Kharge’s electoral fate in Kalaburagi, the political future of many will be decided in the last phase of elections in the state: former CM BS Yeddyurappa’s son BY Raghavendra in Shivamogga, Union minister Ananthkumar Hegde in Uttara Kannada and former Union minister GM Siddeshwara in Davanagere.
Of the 14 seats polling in all, 10 are held by BJP and four by Congress. The one standout factor in the second leg covering north and central Karnataka is that 10 of the candidates are from political families, putting their familial legacies at stake. A legacy of another kind will be tested with the re-election bid of RSS ideologue and Dharwad MP Pralhad Joshi. With former Union minister HN Ananth Kumar’s widow Tejaswini being kept out of the fray, Joshi is being seen as Kumar’s “successor”, the bridge between Delhi and Karnataka.
The polls will also affirm or upset BJP’s dominance in these districts, based on the Lingayat community vote bank here. Roughly half the electorate in each of these constituencies are Lingayats; in four seats, they will prove the deciding factor. With JD(S) having little or no base in north Karnataka, this round will largely be a direct fight between BJP and Congress, barring Shivamogga and Vijayapura where JD(S) is in play. The Ballari contest, where former Congressman Devendrappa of BJP takes on VS Ugrappa of Congress, is being seen as a proxy war between Congress troubleshooter DK Shivakumar and party rebels, the Jarkiholi brothers who are related to Devendrappa. Missing in the equation are BJP’s Valmiki strongman B Sreeramulu and the Reddy brothers who have stayed away following the humiliating defeat of Sreeramulu’s sister J Shantha in the Ballari bypoll in 2018.
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