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Karnataka Bypoll 2018: From Kumaraswamy’s Wife to Yeddyurappa’s Son, It’s Battle Royale Today

According to political pundits, a win for the JD(S) in Mandya, Ramanagara and Shimoga will be a temporary setback for the BJP and would harm the Congress in the long-run.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:November 3, 2018, 9:20 AM IST
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Karnataka Bypoll 2018: From Kumaraswamy’s Wife to Yeddyurappa’s Son, It’s Battle Royale Today
File photo of Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy with wife Anitha. (PTI)
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Bengaluru: By-elections are being held in three Lok Sabha and two Assembly constituencies in Karnataka on Saturday, the outcome of which will have a bearing on the political scene in the run-up to 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Bypolls in Bellary, Shimoga and Mandya Lok Sabha seats, and Ramanagara and Jamkhandi Assembly seats were necessitated by the resignation of three MPs and one MLA, and the death of another MLA.

The ruling Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress combine reluctantly entered the Lok Sabha fray, criticising the Election Commission for conducting the Lok Sabha bypolls for a short tenure of just six months.

After initial hiccups, they managed to field joint candidates in all five seats, causing a minor revolt in Gowda strongholds of Mandya and Ramanagara.

Faced with an acute shortage of candidates who could take on BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa's son and former MP BY Raghavendra in the prestigious Shimoga Lok Sabha seat, the Congress has backed JDS candidate and former MLA Madhu Bangarappa.

Madhu, whose father S Bangarappa was a chief minister and four-time MP from Shimoga, is seeking votes in the name of his late father who lost his last election to Raghavendra in 2009. It’s a battle of prestige for both the JD(S) and Congress.

Yeddyurappa’s pitch to voters has been that a win for his son would empower him more. Madhu Bangarappa's candidature has made an otherwise one-sided election interesting.

Another keenly watched contest is the Bellary Lok Sabha seat where the Congress has gone all out. Former CM Siddaramaiah's confidant VS Ugrappa is the Congress-JD(S) candidate here against BJP strongman B Sriramulu's sister and former MP J Shantha.

More than 100 Congress and JD(S) leaders have campaigned in Bellary, asking voters to end the “reign” of mining barons, the Reddy brothers. Interestingly, both HD Deve Gowda and Siddaramaiah campaigner here extensively.

In the Gowda heartland of Mandya, the fight appears to be one-sided in favour of the JD(S). Even though local Congress leaders have openly opposed the tie-up with principal rival JD(S), the ruling combine has dismissed such issues as minor.

In the Ramanagara Assembly seat where Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's wife Anitha Kumaraswamy is the ruling combine's candidate, the BJP suffered a big jolt after its pick L Chandrashekhar withdrew from the contest, accusing state BJP leaders of “non-cooperation and disinterest”. After the dramatic development, the JD(S) even stopped campaigning in Ramanagara.

In Jhamkhandi in Bagalkote district, Congress has fielded deceased MLA Siddu Nyamagouda's son Anand Nyamagouda hoping to ride the sympathy wave. The BJP has fielded party veteran and former MLA Srikanth Kulkarni.

According to political pundits, a win for the JD(S) in Mandya, Ramanagara and Shimoga will be a temporary setback for the BJP and would harm the Congress in the long-run as party workers may switch sides to the saffron party to take on the JD(S).

The ruling alliance is confident of a win in all five seats and has even declared that it will be the beginning of the end for the BJP in Karnataka. However, the BJP claims that the bypolls will favour them and will boost party prospects in the General Elections due early next year.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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