Constituency Watch: Union Minister Khuba eyeing hat-trick, to face 26-yr-old Sagar Khandre in Karnataka's Bidar

Bengaluru, April 4 (IANS) The Bidar Lok Sabha seat in Karnataka will see a direct contest between sitting BJP MP Bhagwanth Khuba and Congress' Sagar Eshwar Khandre.

While Bhagwanth Khuba, a Union Minister, is looking for a third consecutive term from the constituency, Sagar Khandre, the son of Karnataka Forest Minister Eshwar Khandre, is contesting his first election.

Sagar's grandfather Bheemanna Khandre is a veteran Congress leader.

Bhagwanth Khuba had registered thumping victories in the 2014 and 2019 general elections with margins of 1.16 lakh and 92,192 votes respectively. On both occasions, he managed to defeat powerful opponents -- former Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh in 2014 and Eshwar Khandre in 2019.

Bhagwanth Khuba got the Central portfolio under the Lingayat quota in 2021. However, his candidature was opposed vehemently by the local BJP leaders. Former CM B.S. Yediyurappa had then travelled to Bidar and quelled the dissidence.

26-year-old Sagar Khandre hails from a family of freedom fighters and is a LLB graduate. He actively worked with his father and earned a good name for his services during the Covid pandemic. Currently, he is the Secretary of Shanthivardhaka Education Institute. He has also worked as the general secretary of the National Student Federation.

BJP's Ramchandra Veerappa has consecutively won five Lok Sabha elections from Bidar -- 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004 while the Congress remained unbeaten there from 1952 to 1989.

Congress had also won in the 2004 by-election and in the 2009 parliamentary election from Bidar.

The Bidar seat comprises eight assembly segments -- Chincholi, Aland, Basavakalyan, Humnabad, Bidar South, Bidar, Bhalki and Aurad. Bhalki is represented by Eshwar Khandre. Five assembly seats were held by the BJP while the Congress won three seats in the 2023 Assembly elections.

Since the formation of the BJP-JD(S) alliance in the state, Bhagwanth Khuba has been regularly organising meetings of party workers and leaders of both parties.

The challenge for the BJP is to ensure that the influential Lingayat community vote bank in the region does not split.

While the BJP is depending on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image, the ruling Congress is banking on its 'guarantees' and the minority community.

Bidar is one of the most backward districts in the state and both the national parties are targeting to win the trust of economically backward voters in the run-up to the Lok Sabha poll.

Voting in Bidar is scheduled to be held on May 7.

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