The Battle For South Karnataka's Prestigious Mysuru-Kodagu

South Karnataka's Mysuru-Kodagu votes on April 18, in the second phase of general elections

BJP's Pratap Simha says, "There should be a coalition between the candidate and the public"


The Mysuru-Kodagu seat in southern Karnataka covers the areas earlier ruled by the Wodeyars of Mysuru, Chikkaveera Rajendra of Kodagu and the descendants of Tipu Sultan. Tipu Sultan was revived in public memory, after Karnataka decided a few years ago, under a Congress government, to celebrate his birth anniversary -- a decision that was opposed by the BJP. The fallout was violent protests.

The Lok Sabha seat was fought over by coalition partners in the state, the Janata Dal Secular and the Congress. The two parties wanted the ticket for themselves as they both have a significant base in the region. It is also the home district of former Congress Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah. The ticket finally went to the Congress, who has fielded CH Vijayshankar. The Congress candidate has already represented Mysuru-Kodagu in the Lok Sabha as a BJP candidate. Vijayshankar's opponent this time is the young BJP lawmaker, Pratap Simha.

We asked Pratap Simha whether it was a bigger challenge for him this time as he was taking on the Congress-JDS coalition. 

"See, there should be a coalition between the candidate and the public. By doing good work in the last five years, we have a better alliance with the people of Mysore and Kodagu," Pratap Simha told NDTV. He also dismissed the Siddaramaiah factor, pointing out that the former Chief Minister had lost his Chamundeshwari seat in Mysuru in the Assembly elections last year. 

Along with loyalists of state BJP chief BS Yeddurappa -- Ananth Kumar Hegde and Shobha Karandlaje -- Pratap Simha is considered to be an outspoken member of the party. "When you speak the bitter truth, it is bound to evoke some kind of response. Don't compare me with anybody else. Apart from Tipu, I don't take up any other issue. We are ideologically opposed to Tipu Sultan," said Pratap Simha.

Regarding the development of his constituency the young BJP leader said, "We have already started construction of a ten-lane highway between Mysore and Bangalore at a cost of Rs 7,550 crore and now the 40-km ring road is a national highway and we are expanding the Mysuru airport runway...I have got projects worth Rs 13,000 crore. When Modi ji visited way back in 2014, he said Mysore has got the potential to attract tourists like Paris. Without Mr Modi, who am I? He is like Kamadhenu. He gives everything," said Pratap Simha.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the Congress' Vijayashankar, believes that being the coalition candidate is a big advantage. "On one side is Congress...on the other is JDS. Both parties are capable - they have a base here. When both parties are together, absolutely I say, there is no fight at all," Vijayshankar told NDTV.

The Congress leader alleged that the Centre always neglected Mysuru. "In the last 5 years, the BJP at the Centre has given no importance to Mysore, which has a historical background. Mr Modi came to the city and said he would make Mysore a 'Paris' but there is no development, no progress," Vijayshankar said.

People waved at the Congress candidate as he drove through the city in the evening, standing on his campaign vehicle. "See the response of the public. They are so happy! They have come voluntarily," he claimed.

Prime Minister Modi campaigned in Mysuru on Tuesday, while Congress President, Rahul Gandhi held his rally in the city on Saturday. Mysuru-Kodagu goes to polls on April 18, in the second phase.