In a thumbs up to the ruling JDS-Congress alliance in Karnataka, the coalition candidates in Karnataka won two Lok Sabha constituencies and two Assembly segments in the bypolls held on Saturday. The BJP is headed toward defeat in the Lok Sabha segments of Bellary, Mandya and the Assembly segments of Jamakhandi and Ramanagara. It is only in Shimoga where the BJP is moving toward a clear victory.
The alliance victory in four of the five seats that went to the polls on Saturday will also cement the ruling alliance in the state. The results are being seen not just as an indicator of people’s mood ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but also as something that may have a bearing on the stability of the Congress-JD(S) coalition. This is even though the results, technically, cannot bring down the government by affecting its numerical strength.
Congress’ A S Nyamagouda and Anitha Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) won Jamkhandi and Ramanagaram assembly constituencies on Tuesday by a margin of 39,480 and 1,09,137 votes, respectively. Anitha Kumaraswamy is Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s wife. Congress’ VS Ugruppa and JD(S)’s LR Shivaramegowda won Ballari and Mandya Lok Sabha seats with a margin of 2,43,161 and 3,24,943 votes, respectively. While BJP’s BY Raghavendra, son of party chief BS Yeddyurappa, won Shimoga parliamentary seat with a margin of 5,21,48 votes.
A total of 31 candidates were in the fray from all the five constituencies, though the contest is mainly between the Congress-JDS combine and the BJP. The bypoll results will determine the fate of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s wife Anita Kumaraswamy, state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa’s son B Y Raghavendra and former Chief Minister S Bangarappa’s son Madhu Bangarappa and others.
|L.R. Shivarame Gowda
A major embarrassment to the BJP was the loss of Bellary, where, after 14 years, BJP is set to lose Bellary LS seat.V S Ugrappa of the Congress has secured 4.78 lakh votes after 13 rounds of counting, an unbeatable lead over his BJP rival J Shanta who has so far secured 2.93 lakh votes. At the time of filing this report, there are just five more rounds to go. The constituency, once a Congress bastion, has been the scene of the famous electoral battle in which AICC president Sonia Gandhi made her electoral debut defeating senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj in 1999.
Sonia won, but the BJP wrested the seat in the 2004 polls and had retained it since. The present bypolls were necessitated after sitting MP B Sriramulu of the BJP vacated the seat following his victory in the 2018 Assembly polls from Molkalmuru constituency in Chitradurga district. Sriramulu had won the seat defeating N Y Hanumanthappa of the Congress by a margin of 85,000 votes. J Shanta is the sister of Sriramulu. The victory to the Congress can also be attributed to key strategist and Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar, who is the district in-charge minister. Shivakumar was also entrusted the task by the party to ensure the victory of the Congress candidate. It was a sort of proxy war between Shivakumar and Sriramulu.
Both Shivakumar and Sriramalu are known for their electoral management skills and ‘never-say-die’ attitude. As part of its coalition arrangement with the Congress, the JD(S) did not contest. Despite reports of a ‘faction-ridden Ballari unit of the Congress’, finally the alliance unity overcame this hurdle. There had been intense speculation over whether Hosapete (Vijayanagar constituency) MLA Anand Singh and Ballari (ST) constituency MLA B Nagendra may jump ship to the BJP after their demand for Cabinet berths were not met.
Shivakumar, while speaking to the media said that Ugrapps’s victory brought with a big responsibility for the party. “Ugrappa will be Congress’ voice in the Parliament. The Congress has sought votes from the electorate for the next five years. We will now focus on the development of Bellary district. The party will ensure that we will not break the trust of the voters,” he added.
Meawnhile, J Santha of the BJP, the sister of powerful Nayaka leader B Sriramulu, has secured 65,559 votes. The present bypoll was necessitated after Sriramulu vacated the seat following his victory in the 2018 Assembly polls from Molkalmuru constituency in Chitradurga district.
Sriramulu had won the seat defeating N Y Hanumanthappa of the Congress by a margin of 85,000 votes.Ever since the constituency grabbed national attention, winning the seat has become a matter of prestige both for the Congress and the BJP. As part of its coalition arrangement with the Congress, the JD(S) did not contest.
The Bellary Lok Sabha bypoll was supposed to have been a nail-biter as the BJP and the Congress carried out high-decibel campaigns. However, it is turning out to be a one-sided contest – Congress’ V S Ugrappa has polled 3.70 lakh votes whereas BJP’s J Shantha has polled 2.19 lakh votes – a huge margin of 1.51 lakh.
In the Mandya Lok Sabha segment, the BJP fielded former bureaucrat Dr Siddaramaiah, whose “clean image” it hoped could give it leverage over JD(S) leader L R Shivarame Gowda. However, Shivaramegowda is leading by 1.60 lakh votes.
Similarly, the saffron party was confident that Shrikant Kulkarni could wrest the seat from the Congress. However, Kulkarni has managed to poll 42,671 votes so far against Congress’ Anand Nyamagouda who is leading with 71,787.
As far as Ramanagara Assembly constituency is concerned, the BJP virtually conceded defeat after its candidate L Chandrashekhar backed off 48 hours before voting day on November 3. This reflects in the result so far – JD(S) candidate Anitha Kumaraswamy has polled 69,269 votes, whereas Chandrashekhar has secured only 9,502 votes.
DS leader Anitha Kumaraswamy, who is elected from Ramanagaram assembly segment, is the first woman MLA from the Muslim majority segment.
JD(S) leader, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy:
This elections was the first step. There are 28 Lok Sabha seats, we’ll work with Congress to win all of them, that is our goal. This is not an empty boast just because we have won today. This is the confidence of people in us. This win is not making us arrogant: JD(S) leader, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy.