Belagavi: A political heavyweight from Belagavi, Umesh Katti has continued his winning spree by romping home to his eighth victory this assembly poll, a feat achieved by only a few politicians like the late Chief Minister, Dharam Singh and senior Congress leader, Mallikarjun Kharge.
Of the nine elections he has contested since 1985 from Hukkeri constituency, Mr Katti has now won eight, losing only once in 2004. This time, he had a tough rival in Mr A B Patil, a veteran Congress leader of Hukkeri, but the latter could not stop him from winning his eighth term as legislator. Although both men are popular Lingayat leaders in the Lingayat-majority constituency, most rallied behind Mr Katti upset over the alleged attempts made by the Congress government to politicise the issue of a separate religion tag for the community.
On entering politics following the death of his father, a Janata Dal leader, Vishwanath Katti in 1985, Mr Umesh Katti won his first by-election the same year by 21000 votes as a Janata Dal candidate and went on to win three more on its ticket before switching to the BJP in 2004. But soon afterwards, he lost the election of 2004 from Hukkeri by a mere 900 votes. He , however, won the next three elections that followed, the last in 2013 by a margin of 57,000 votes.
A mass leader of the Chikkodi region, Mr Katti has been able to connect with the people through the two sugar factories that his family owns in Chikkodi. His family has also been actively involved in the cooperative movement since his father was MLA of Hukkeri in the early eighties. His brother, Ramesh Katti ,who is chairman of the District Credit Cooperative Bank (DCC Bank), won the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Chikkodi parliamentary constituency, but lost the last Lok Sabha election to Mr Prakash Hukkeri of the Congress.
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