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Do or Die Battle, Turf War and Alliance Clashes: How Karnataka Bypolls Can Alter Plans Ahead of 2019

Till the Election Commission declared by-elections to these seats, none of the parties were ready. But with no other option before them, the JDS – Congress combine and the BJP fielded the candidates on Monday.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:October 15, 2018, 4:15 PM IST
Do or Die Battle, Turf War and Alliance Clashes: How Karnataka Bypolls Can Alter Plans Ahead of 2019
File photo of BS Yeddyurappa and Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy.

Bengaluru: Over a month before the results to five state assembly elections are announced, three Lok Sabha and two Assembly seats in Karnataka will witness a high-voltage poll battle that has already been dubbed as semi-final for the Lok Sabha elections of 2019 in the state.

The ruling JDS – Congress combine and the main opposition BJP have reluctantly fielded candidates for the Lok Sabha bypolls, complaining that there was no need of the election as the newly elected candidate would only get a tenure of six months.

But these three by-polls may decide which way the wind is blowing across Karnataka ahead of the most crucial Parliament elections due early next year.

The resignations of BS Yeddyurappa and B Sriramulu of the BJP and CS Puttaraju of the JDS necessitated the bypolls to Shimoga, Bellary and Mandya Lok Sabha seats. All three were elected to the state assembly in the May elections.

Till the Election Commission of India (ECI) declared by-elections to these seats, none of the parties were ready. The ECI decision came as a shock to them and with no other option before them, the JDS – Congress combine and the BJP fielded the candidates on Monday.

In the most important Shimoga, which is Yeddyurappa’s fiefdom, his son and former MP BY Raghavendra is contesting on a BJP ticket. The Congress has ceded the seat to JDS and the ruling alliance is fielding former JDS MLA Madhu Bangarappa, who is the son of former chief minister S Bangarappa.

The JDU (Nitish Kumar) has fielded the son of another chief minister, late J H Patel, Mahima Patel. But it looks like a symbolic fight as Mahima Patel has no backing in the constituency.

For Yeddyurappa, getting his son elected to the Parliament is a “do or die” question as a loss could mean he loses his clout in the state BJP.

Speaking to News18, he said that his son would win by a huge margin. “There is no fight in Shimoga. My son Raghavendra will win easily. Let the JDS and Congress do whatever they want. The Congress does not even have a candidate. That’s why they have given the seat to JDS,” Yeddyurappa said.

Countering him, chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said that Yeddyurappa was day dreaming and the coalition candidate Madhu is not an easy prey. “The Congress has given the seat to us. Madhu is a strong candidate. In the recently held Assembly elections, Congress and JDS together polled over 90,000 more votes than the BJP in Shimoga. We will win. It will be the beginning of the end of Yeddyurappa” he said.

State Congress president Dinesh Gundurao said that Congress had asked JDS to field its candidate only to give a good fight to BJP. “We are strong in Shimoga. With the sole intention of giving a tough fight to BJP, we have ceded Shimoga to JDS”, he said.

In Reddy stronghold of Bellary, the BJP has fielded former MP J Shantha. She is the younger sister of party strongman and MLA B Sriramulu. The Congress has fielded MLC VS Ugrappa, ignoring the claims of Congress MLA B Nagendra’s brother Venkatesh Prasad for the ticket.

The Reddy brothers have declared a war on JDS-Congress alliance, claiming that Bellary is their turf and Water Resources minister D K Shivakumar, who is in charge of the campaign, will have to go back disappointed.

However, the Congress has taken Bellary seriously and is making all efforts to humiliate the BJP by handing out a defeat in by-polls.

In Mandya, where the Gowdas enjoys clout, the election looks one-sided. The JDS swept all eight seats in the recent Assembly polls and the BJP lost deposit in all seats. The JDS-Congress has fielded former MLA LR Shivarame Gowda and BJP has fielded retired government official Siddaramaiah from Mandya.

But the local Congress workers and leaders openly expressed displeasure over the alliance with JDS and the BJP is trying to woo some of them.

In Ramanagara Assembly seat vacated by Kumaraswamy after he won from two seats, his wife and former MLA Anitha Kumaraswamy is contesting on JDS ticket backed by the Congress. The BJP has fielded local Congress leader and MLC C M Lingappa’s son L Chandrashekhar against her.

The local Congress workers are up in the arms against their party backing chief minister’s wife. They claim that Congress polled over 70,000 votes against Kumaraswamy in the last Assembly elections and support to JDS would demoralize the cadre.

In Jamakhandi Assembly seat, the Congress has fielded deceased Congress MLA Siddu Nyamagouda’s son Anand Nyamagouda. The BJP has fielded former MLA Srikanth Kulkarni against him.

According to political observers, if the JDS-Congress combine wins at least two Lok Sabha seats and one Assembly seat, the shaky coalition government may survive till the Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP seems to be doing everything to deal a body blow to the ruling coalition with an eye on power, in case the current government collapses after the by-elections.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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