Chikkodi in Belgaum district boasts of stalwarts who control the sugar factories as well as the politics in the region. The by-election to the assembly from Chikkodi-Sadalaga scheduled to be held on August 21 has turned out to be a battle between two MPs — Rajya Sabha member from BJP Prabhakar Kore and Lok Sabha member from Congress Prakash Hukkeri.
The BJP has fielded sitting MLC Mahantesh Kavatagimath while Congress has named zilla panchayat member Ganesh Hukkeri, son of MP Prakash Hukkeri. This is for the first time that the constituency is facing a by-election. Prakash Hukkeri who was MLA for the fifth consecutive term from the constituency, had to vacate his seat after being elected to Lok Sabha in May this year. He has managed to get the Congress ticket for his son 38-year-old Ganesh who is a zilla panchayat member for the second term.
Prakash Hukkeri was the sugar minister in Siddaramaiah’s cabinet and he was reluctant to contest the Lok Sabha polls. He tried his best to avoid contesting, but ultimately had to toe the party line. Once in the fray, he had to take the election seriously and ultimately won against BJP’s strongman, the sitting MP Ramesh Katti by a narrow margin.
Both Prakash Hukkeri and Prabhakar Kore hail from Chikkodi and are vying with each other to take the control of the taluk. They have taken the election as a matter of prestige and are doing everything to win. The BJP is trying all the means to win the seat and has fielded Kavatagimath who is a Lingayat. Ganesh Hukkeri is also a Lingayat.
On the face of it, the contest is very keen. The constituency has 172,000 voters. The BJP is trying to woo Muslim voters in Chikkodi town by inviting former Wakf chairman Manippadi to campaign for the party nominee. While both the parties could share 50 per cent votes each in Chikkodi town, the Congress appears to be ahead in rural parts.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, ministers Satish Jarkiholi, H K Patil, M B Patil and others are campaigning at a brisk rate while BJP state president Prahlad Joshi, former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, Balachandra Jarkiholi are leaving no stone unturned.