Karnataka Assembly Bypolls: A Battle of Optics No One Can Afford to Lose
File photos of Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, state Congress president DK Shivakumar and JDS chief HD Kumaraswamy. (PTI Photos)
The Sira and RR Nagara bypolls are a matter of personal prestige for all three major parties in the fray. While names on the ballots are different, political pundits say the contest is actually between Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, state Congress president DK Shivakumar and JDS chief HD Kumaraswamy.
- News18 BENGALURU
- Last Updated: September 30, 2020, 11:54 IST
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Two Karnataka assembly seats -- Sira and RR Nagara – will vote in a bypoll on November 3. The death of JDS MLA Sathyanarayana necessitated the elections in Sira, while the defection of Congress MLA M Muniratna to the BJP led to bypolls in RR Nagara. Sira is located in Tumkur district and RR Nagara is in the outskirts of Bengaluru city.
The election is a matter of personal prestige for all three major parties in the fray -- ruling BJP, main opposition Congress and third party JDS. While names on the ballots are different, political pundits say the contest is actually between Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, state Congress president DK Shivakumar and JDS chief HD Kumaraswamy.
Both seats are in the old Mysore region, that too in Vokkaliga strongholds. Winning both seats is a must for DK Shivakumar, who also hails from the same caste. Moreover, it is his first election after taking charge as KPCC president six months ago. A loss can go against him in a faction-ridden Congress, which is hoping to return to power under his leadership in the next assembly polls.
The Congress has already declared the candidature of former minister and veteran leader TB Jayachandra from Sira. A six-time MLA, Jayachandra lost the last assembly election to JDS by a small margin. The Vokkaliga leader is now trying to make a comeback to settle scores with the Congress’ former alliance partner. He has already begun campaigning across the constituency.
The Congress is pinning hopes on Jayachandra’s image and Shivakumar’s capabilities to swing the election in its favour.
The JDS, however, looks directionless, with the emergence of Shivakumar proving to be a major hurdle in its free run in Vokkaliga areas.
Though the party has no base in Sira, the ruling BJP has decided to put up a big fight. Yediyurappa has constituted a Golla Development Corporation keeping the bypolls in mind. The Golla caste has a sizable population in Sira.
RR Nagara is a part of Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha seat represented by Shivakumar’s younger brother DK Suresh. It is the only seat which Congress could win the in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Karnataka.
Shivakumar has said that the Congress would field a surprise candidate from RR Nagara. The BJP is yet to decide on its candidate and there is no guarantee that it will field Muniratna, who defected to the saffron party to make BSY the CM last year.
The JDS also has good support here and might dent Congress’ prospects, indirectly helping the BJP. A win or loss will have no impact on the stability of the BSY government. But, neither the BJP nor the Congress nor the JDS can afford lose a battle of optics.