Melukote the epicentre of betting scene in Mandya
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Melukote the epicentre of betting scene in Mandya

May 12, 2023

Mandya: Cash, agricultural fields, tractors, two-wheelers, cattle,  poultry, sheep…

Punters invest money in Nagamangala, Srirangapatna, K.R. Pet, Maddur but no enthusiasm for Malavalli

This is not an array of exhibits we are speaking about but the betting stakes with people in rural areas too not behind when it comes to betting that is making more sound this time in Mandya which is synonymous with sugarcane production and hence the sobriquet — Sakkare Nadu (Land of Sugar).

Betting racket is going on unabated, touching its peak on the eve of counting, with the counting of votes scheduled for May 13.

Unlike previous elections held in 2018, when Janata Dal (Secular) swept the district winning all the seven Assembly Constituencies, with the voters of the district polling largely in favour of former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy, with profound hopes of seeing him return as CM and benefit of loan waiver, the situation this time was totally different.

Difficult predictions

The traditional rivals JD(S) and Congress are fighting it out in all the seven Constituencies, with BJP also emerging as a strong contender. It has made it difficult even for the political pundits to predict the outcome.

Amid this, a betting racket is thriving in all the Constituencies, mainly Melukote, where the sitting JD(S) MLA and former Minister C.S. Puttaraju is facing his traditional rival and Raitha Sangha leader Darshan Puttannaiah of Sarvodaya Karnataka Party (SKP) supported by Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and the Congress party.

JD(S) patriarch H.D. Deve Gowda and former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy campaigned for Puttaraju, while Darshan was also not lagging behind, with even KPCC President D.K. Shivakumar campaigning in favour of the farmer leader.

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High-voltage Constituency

So, Melukote has emerged as a high-voltage Constituency with even every village resonating with betting craze, as the villagers are betting money in the range of Rs. 50,000 to whopping Rs. 5 lakh. It’s more in Dudda, Chinakurali, Jakkanahalli and Kyatanahalli, but all happening in a covert manner, as betting is considered illegal. However, the rate of betting is less in urban areas when compared to                          rural areas.

Similarly, Nagamangala Constituency has turned out to be yet another high-voltage seat, with another sitting JD(S) MLA Suresh Gowda competing against former Minister N. Cheluvarayaswamy of the Congress.

K.R. Pet Constituency has also hogged limelight for the triangular fight between sitting BJP MLA and Youth Empowerment and Sports Minister K. Narayana Gowda, Congress’ B.L. Devaraj and JD(S) candidate H.T. Manju.

Generational political rivalry

Srirangapatna has set the stage again for second-generation political rivalry, with incumbent JD(S) MLA Ravindra Srikantaiah facing a tough fight from A.B. Ramesh Babu Bandisiddegowda with the new entrant in BJP candidate Induvalu Sachchidananda, supported by Mandya MP Sumalatha Ambarish, in the fray.

In Maddur seat again, the straight fight is between JD(S) MLA D.C. Thammanna and Congress’ Kadalur Uday, while in Mandya, Ganiga Ravi is trying his luck again from Congress and JD(S) candidate B.R. Ramachandra emerging as a new challenger, but the worry is about JD(S) rebel candidate K.S. Vijayananda.

The buzz is that several lakhs of money is at stake in Keelara, Keragod and Basaralu regions, with the punters placing bets on their favourite candidates. But, Malavalli (SC Reserve) Constituency is devoid of such betting and the reason is not known.

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Betting hit peak during 2019 Lok Sabha polls

Mandya Parliamentary Constituency had got nation-wide attention during Lok Sabha elections held in 2019, for the only reason that it was the launch pad of Nikhil Kumaraswamy son of then Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, in the fray as the candidate of JD(S)-Congress coalition Government.

However, it was not that easy with Sumalatha Ambarish, wife of actor-turned-politician M. H. Amarnath (Ambarish) contesting as an independent, with the support of BJP and Raitha Sangha. Eventually Sumalatha won by a huge margin of 1.4 lakh votes riding high on sympathy wave.

Even then the betting racket was very much active and had even crossed the district boundaries, with punters staking a minimum of Rs. 10 lakh, besides vehicles, agricultural fields and livestock.

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