The BJP won the RR Nagar and Sira assembly bypolls in Karnataka by a comfortable margin on Tuesday, strengthening chief minister Yediyurappa’s position in the assembly as well as the party.
BJP candidate Munirathna won by a margin of 57,672 votes from RR Nagara assembly seat, defeating Congress candidate Kusuma and JD-S candidate Krishnamurthy. In Sira, BJP’s Rajesh Gowda beat Congress’ Jayachandra by 12,949 votes.
The outcome may not change the political dynamics immediately, but it will certainly impact the leadership of all three major parties in the fray — BJP, Congress and JDS. It is an election that Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had to win at any cost to save his chair.
The Sira assembly bypoll was necessitated by the death of sitting Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) legislator B Satyanarayana at a private hospital on August 5 after prolonged illness. The JD-S fielded Satyanarayana’s widow Ammajamma as its candidate, while Rajesh Gowda is the ruling BJP’s nominee in the triangular contest.
Congress candidate in Sira Assembly by-election TB Jayachandra and his wife GH Nirmala have tested Covid positive but are asymptomatic. “Jayachandra and Nirmala, who tested positive for coronavirus, have been admitted to a private hospital in the city,” Congress state unit spokesman Ravi Gowda said on Monday. TB Jayachandra, 71, is a former state minister.
TB Jayachandra had lost the 2018 Assembly election from the same seat by a margin of 10,000 votes. He has held important ministerial portfolios in the SM Krishna and Siddaramaiah governments in the past.
The RR Nagar assembly by-election was necessitated by the resignation of N Muniratna in July 2019, who is the BJP’s candidate after he defected from the Congress in November 2019. The Congress fielded a greenhorn H Kusuma, widow of former IAS officer DK Ravi, and JD-U fielded V Krishna Murthy.
As the RR Nagar constituency has a large number of Vokkaligas, a politically dominant community in the state, the Congress and JD-S candidates are Vokkaligas, while Muniratna is a Naidu.
It was an important election for Chief Minister Yediyurappa as his rivals within the BJP are gunning for him citing old age and family interference, once again. For Congress’ DK Shivakumar, it was a “do or die” battle as both the seats are in his area of influence – the Vokkaliga heartland of Old Mysore region. And for JDS, it was a question of survival of the Gowdas as the area is believed to be their stronghold.
For JDS, a Congress’ defeat will give a breather to the Gowdas whose political stocks are steadily declining. A win for the Congress would have forced the Gowdas to cede Vokkaliga space to “rising star” Shivakumar, who is also from the same caste and region.
A record 82.31 percent voting was registered in Sira, while it was only 45.24 percent in RR Nagar. Around 6.76-lakh voters were eligible to vote in the twin by-elections. In RR Nagar, only 45.24 per cent of the 4.6-lakh voters exercised their franchise, while in Sira, a whopping 82.31 per cent of the 2.15-lakh voters cast their ballot.