Bidar Lok Sabha seat: Will Congress pick Eshwar Khandre or Vijay Singh?

BIDAR: The Bidar Lok Sabha Sabha seat is witnessing an intense tussle between KPCC Working President Eshwar Khandre and sitting MLC Vijay Singh for the Congress ticket. The Congress is making a serious bid to recapture the crucial Bidar seat, which is the second general seat of the five in the Hyderabad Karnataka region, the other being Koppal.  This became evident from the recent launch of the campaign in the state by AICC President Rahul Gandhi from Bidar.

Late Chief Minister N Dharam Singh, who won the Bidar Lok Sabha seat in 2009 after it became a general category seat, had lost it to BJP candidate Bhagwan Khuba in the 2014 election. According to well placed sources though there are many claimants for the Congress ticket this time, the competition is between Mr Vijay Singh, who is the eldest son of late Dharam Singh and the Working President of KPCC Eshwar Khandre, who has been elected to the Assembly for the third time from Bhalki.

Senior leader and former legislator from Aland B.R. Patil, who lost by a narrow margin in the recent Assembly election to BJP candidate Subash Guttedar,  has also thrown his hat in the ring. Though Aland taluk is in Kalaburagi district, it is part of the Bidar Lok Sabha constituency. A Bengaluru based businessman by profession, Mr Vijay Singh has made Bidar his home district since 2009 when his father opted to contest from the seat. After managing the campaign of his father in the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Mr Vijay Singh got elected to the Upper House from the Bidar local bodies constituency in 2015.  Although he has three more years of his tenure as a MLC left, he wants to take over the political legacy of his late father.   

Late Dharam Singh arrived on the Bidar political scene in 2009 and put his rich resources, long experience and skills to good use to considerably reduce the clout of the powerful Lingayats in Bidar district by consolidating the backward classes, minorities and Dalits. Though the Lingayat community bounced back in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls by getting the BJP candidate Mr Bhagwan Khuba elected, there is no gainsaying the fact that till his death in July 2017, the late CM totally controlled the affairs of the district.

“Following the demise of Mr Dharam Singh, a big void has been created in the Congress party in Bidar district which Mr Vijay Singh wants to fill now. He tried to strengthen his base  in the district by trying to field his brother-in-law Chandra Singh from the Bidar South seat in the recent Assembly election. But the effort suffered a setback as the Siddaramaiah group favoured sitting MLA and industrialist Ashok Kheny, who defected to the party. By throwing his hat in the ring for the Lok Sabha seat now, Mr Vijay Singh is making a strong bid to take over the mantle of his father and emerge as a rallying point for the BCs, minorities and Dalits”, a political observer stated.

 They feel that his chances of getting the ticket hinge largely on whether the Congress high command decides to field a non-Lingayat candidate from Bidar or not.   “This is because of the five Lok Sabha seats in the Hyderabad Karnataka region, three seats —Kalaburagi, Raichur and Ballari— are reserved. In the 2014 Lok Sabha poll the Congress fielded BC candidates in the remaining two general seats- Mr Dharam Singh in Bidar and Mr Basavaraj Hitnal (Kuruba community leader) in Koppal. The failure of the Congress to field a Lingayat candidate in the previous election had affected its chances and helped BJP win three of the five seats- Koppal, Ballari and Bidar. The Congress cannot afford to make this mistake again. It has to field a Lingayat candidate either in Bidar or Koppal. So if the party decides to field a Lingayat candidate in Bidar, Mr Eshwar Khadre will be the choice. Or if the party decides to field a non-Lingayat candidate against the BJP’s  sitting MP who is a Lingayat, Mr Vijay Singh has bright chances,” the sources revealed.

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