“I can’t reject your love and trust. I’ve decided to contest the upcoming assembly election from Kolar," Siddaramaiah said at the meeting.
The Congress leader is banking on the guarantee of a four-time MLA who is joining the party from the JD(S). The seat’s substantial minority voters are also likely to throw their weight behind the former chief minister.
However, there is a mixed reaction in the Kuruba community. A section of the community is in support of Siddaramaiah, while others are opposing the candidacy. Former MLA Vartur Prakash, who is also from the Kuruba community, is expected to contest from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from the Kolar region.
Meanwhile, Kolar district Kuruba community president Muniyappa is of the view that since Vartur Prakash has done much work for the community, there is no need for two leaders in the region and hence would like to continue supporting him. Furthermore, two BJP leaders from the community are planning to contest from the same region.
However, the vice president of the district Kuruba community is in support of Siddaramaiah. The executive president of the community, Jayaram, has openly supported the senior leader. According to Jayaram, Siddaramaiah is a big leader while others are small compared to him (in terms of position). Hence, it is wise to support Siddaramaiah since he can do much more good for the community.
It was earlier reported that Siddaramaiah had a rift with former union minister K H Muniyappa, who is a seven-time Congress MP from the Kolar Lok Sabha seat and lost in 2019 from the SC-reserved constituency after three decades. However, sources say that the two have made up and Siddaramaiah has promised Muniyaapa his full backing in future polls.
Of Kolar’s nearly 2.25 lakh voters, around 40 per cent are believed to be Vokkaligas, 20 per cent are backward castes, 15 per cent are Dalits, and 14 per cent are Muslims. With the constituency’s sizable Muslim population, Kolar has thrice sent Muslim MLAs to the assembly, in 1957, 1978, and 1989, all three times on Congress tickets.
Since 2018, there have been reports of divisions in the local Congress in Badami and also that Siddaramaiah has been unable to give the required attention to the constituency as most of his politics is concentrated in southern Karnataka.
According to sources, Kolar is a safe bet for Siddaramaiah as it will consolidate AHINDA votes in his favour, and Vokkaliga leaders of the party from the region have also pledged support to him.
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