Vijayapura: The veteran Congress leader, Prakash Hukkeri proved to be a candidate who destroyed the dream of Arun Shahapur of the BJP to win the MLC election for the Teachers’ constituency for the third successive term to create a hat-trick.
The 77-year-old Hukkeri who has served as MLA for six terms and MP for a term tried his luck for the first time in his over four decades of career in the MLC election.
His seniority, enormous political experience and his cordial relations with leaders of various parties acted as a booster in his victory as he defeated 46-year-old Arun Shahapur who had won the election for two successive terms for the North West Teachers’ constituency.
Native of Examba village in Chikkodi taluk in Belagavi District, Hukkeri was making efforts to join electoral politics for quite some time after losing the previous Lok Sabha election.
Though he tried to convince the party to offer him a ticket in the last MLC polls for the local body constituency, Congress did not consider his request.
Finally, Congress chose him for the Teachers’ constituency polls and the Hukkeri did not disappoint the party by registering an easy victory by a comfortable 5,045 votes.
While Hukkeri secured 11,460 votes, Shahapur got only 6,405 votes which could be considered a major setback to Shahapur as he was sitting MLC.
Though the BJP had announced to offer tickets to Shahapur weeks months before the announcement of the election dates which helped him to start an early campaign, yet this factor did not work in his favour.
Despite the fact that Congress took time in announcing the ticket and finally selected Hukkeri as the candidate, the former made sure that he keeps a good connection with the votes within the limited time.
The BJP High Command had sent several prominent leaders of State and the Centre to campaign for the BJP candidates, however even their presence failed to ensure the victory.
People close to Shahapur alleged that several BJP leaders themselves campaigned discreetly against Shahapur as they did not want the former to win.
“The BJP leaders worked against Shahapur because they feared that the victory of Shahapur would elevate his position in the party and he could become Minister in the BJP government. This could affect the prospects of other leaders in the party. Considering this, some BJP leaders worked against Shahapur and their efforts yielded results,” they said.
While Shahapur had to taste defeat, his party colleague and candidate for the Graduates’ constituency, Hanumanth Nirani retained his seat by defeating Congress’s Sunil Sank.
Native of Bilagi Taluk of Bagalakote District, Nirani defeated Sank, who is native Athani taluk of Belagavi District.
Brother of Minister Murgesh Nirani, Hanumanth secured over 20,000 votes.
Many political experts believe that Nirani’s victory Nirani was almost certain as he had created a strong vote bank and was popular among the graduates. Sank is considered a novice and was extensively dependent on the party leaders for the campaign since he did not have his personal charisma.
Finally, Congress and BJP won one seat each in the Teachers’ and Graduates’ constituencies respectively.