From the very beginning of the campaign in Hangal, Congress candidate Srinivas Mane, who won by 7,373 votes, was way ahead of BJP’s Shivaraj Sajjanar in terms of acceptance by voters.
Mane had rendered yeoman assistance to the people of the segment during both waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, reportedly distributing food and medicines to thousands of people during the lockdowns. He had also arranged supplies of medical oxygen and hospital beds for the needy. In a country where voters’ memories are notoriously short, the result suggests the electorate did not forget that help.
“Both Congress and BJP were evenly matched when it came to carrying out spirited campaigns and deploying resources,” said Tukaram, a resident of Hangal. “But what differentiated them was the goodwill Mane had earned.”
Even chief minister Basavaraj Bommai acknowledged Mane’s popularity. “People voted for Mane’s good work during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bommai said.
Under enormous pressure to win the constituency since it fell within the precincts of Haveri, his home district, Bommai had camped in Hangal for over a week besides deploying around half-a-dozen ministers for campaigning.
Mane had lost to late CM Udasi by just over 6,000 votes in 2018 but remained in constant touch with the people of the constituency. His victory is significant since it came against the might of the ruling party and in a constituency dominated by Lingayats, the main vote bank of the BJP.
Same story in Sindgi
In Sindgi too, the victory of BJP candidate Ramesh Bhusanur is being attributed to his personal rapport with voters and the help he extended to people during the pandemic. Like Mane, Bhusanur had also lost to the late MC Managuli of JD(S) in 2018, but he too ensured he kept his association with the people intact.
“During his tenure as MLA for two terms between 2008 and 2018, he had put in a lot of work besides developing cordial relations with voters which aided his victory,” said Ravi, an advocate from Sindgi. “The aristocratic behaviour of Ashok Managuli [Congress candidate], who acted as a de facto minister when his father MC Managuli was minister in the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, also aided Bhusanur.” The BJP candidate won by 31,088 votes.