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Siddaramaiah vs Sreeramulu: Caste likely to decide who will win the historic Badami seat

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Sreeramulu, who belongs to the Nayaka tribe, is seen as a tough competitor for Siddaramaiah as he is said to have a sizeable support base in the region.

Bengaluru: The BJP has fielded B. Sreeramulu — a close confidant of controversial mining barons, Reddy brothers — in the Badami constituency, one of two seats Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah is contesting in the 12 May assembly election.

Siddaramaiah earlier announced that he would contest from two seats — Badami and Chamundeshwari — while his son Yathindra would be fielded from Varuna.

Sreeramulu, who belongs to the scheduled tribe Nayaka community, is seen as a tough competitor for Siddaramaiah as he is believed to have a sizeable support base in the region.

In Badami, the major fight will be to win the votes of the Kurubas or shepherd community who account for 65,000 of the 2.1 lakh voters. CM Siddaramaiah belongs to the Kuruba community. In addition, there are 30,000 Nayakas, 50,000 Lingayats and 15,000 Muslims in this constituency.

The town, famous for its rock-cut temples, is located in the northern Karnataka district of Bagalkot and was the capital of the Chalukya rulers from the 6th century to the 8th century.

A key battleground for Congress

Badami will turn out to be a key battleground as traditionally the Kurubas and Muslims have been voting for the Congress. With the recent decision taken by the Siddaramaiah government on the Lingayat issue, the grand old party hopes that the community’s vote will swing in its favour. The question is whether Sreeramulu will be able to draw Lingayat votes in BJP’s favour as the party has calculated as the community has traditionally voted for the BJP.

Exuding confidence, Sreeramulu said he will win this election comfortably. Asked whether his candidature in Badami was to checkmate chief minister Siddaramaiah, he said, “Our party does not believe in revenge politics. My high command asked me to stand from this constituency and as an obedient party worker I have followed their instructions.”

“We will win this seat as this is our stronghold,” he told ThePrint.

Sreeramulu is also contesting in another seat, Molakalmuru, in Chitradurga district in central Karnataka.

While filing his nomination for his second seat, Siddaramaiah said, “The Congress high command thought it was wise to listen to the request of the people asking me to fight from Badami also.”

“I am least bothered as to who will contest against me there (Badami). Whether it is Sreeramulu or Yeddyurappa, I have full faith in my voters and they will never leave me,” the CM added.

One of the main reasons behind Congress’ decision to field Siddaramaiah in Badami is because the party felt that it would be a smooth sailing for him in this Kuruba-dominated constituency. He is also banking on his AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) vote-bank as well as the Lingayats, who were recently accorded the status of a religious minority although the central government is yet to endorse the decision.

Siddaramaiah has already filed his nomination from Chamundeshwari, a seat which is also being considered tough. He is challenged by his former aide G.T. Deve Gowda, now a JD(S) candidate who is quite popular among the Vokkaligas, the dominant community in the Old Mysuru region.

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