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Wednesday 1 April 2020

Karnataka by-polls: BJP seems poised for clean sweep

If the BJP can rein in some disgruntled leaders, the remaining factors are playing out well for the ruling party's chances in Karnataka

Editorials

In India

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The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks poised for a comfortable win in a majority of the 15 Karnataka Assembly constituencies wherein by-polls are scheduled on coming Thursday 05 December.

However, Rajarajeshwarinagar in Bengaluru city and Maski constituency in Raichuru district of the State are not included in this phase of Karnataka by-polls, as the defeated BJP candidates have contested the victory of the then-rival Indian National Congress (INC) candidates in both these constituencies during the May 2018 general election.

The BJP, INC and JD(S) leaders have been overbusy these days washing dirty linen in public during electioneering, which is getting over in the next couple of days.

Although the polling process is slated to be over on 5 December, the results will be known only on next Monday, 9 December when the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) will be unlocked for counting of votes.

The Karnataka by-elections made inevitable due to the resignations of 14 INC and three Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] legislators have also raised eyebrows within the ruling BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders and workers for multiple reasons.

The loyal and long-standing BJP leaders and workers were all along shedding sweat and tears by waging a relentless political battle against the very same people who over a period of time became turncoats, got disqualified and are now having the last laugh by becoming the BJP candidates.

Initially, there was a bonhomie like atmosphere within the ranks and files of the saffron brigade as soon as the previous HD Kumaraswamy led JD(S)-INC coalition government collapsed due to the mass resignations of the 17 MLAs’.But once the issue of disqualification was petitioned in the apex court and the fence-sitters got a reprieve in the form of blanket permission to contest.

The Supreme Court set aside the Speaker’s ruling against the same till the end of present Assembly’s tenure leading to fresh heartburn in the BJP camps.

A section of the ruling party was jubilant and was grateful to all the 17 MLAs as their ‘sacrifice’ had paved the way for a BJP government in Karnataka. At the same time, it also led to a political harakiri of the BJP leaders in these 17 constituencies.

Though a handful of days are left behind for the polling to take place, the effect of ruffled feathers continues to be a worrisome factor to the ruling party in many a constituency!

In Athani Lakshman Savadi, the deputy chief minister was placated with an assurance of continuance in the post and disqualified-MLA-turned-BJP-candidate Mahesh Kumatalli becoming a minister in the event of emerging victorious. But Raju (Bharamgouda) Kage, former BJP MLA refused to relent and switched over sides to the INC. Now he is the sole contender in Kagwad constituency to the INC MLA turned BJP candidate Shrimant Patil.

Even in Gokak, Ashok Pujari who lost to Ramesh Jharkiholi of the INC in the previous elections as a BJP candidate refused to budge and is now in the poll fray as a JD(S) candidate. Last time he had bagged more than 65,000 votes.

The more votes Ashok Pujari polls in his favour much more will be the situation dangerous to Ramesh Jharkiholi who is eyeing upon becoming the future deputy chief minister. Vijayanagar is no better either. Kaviraj Urs, a BJP ticket aspirant has refused to withdraw from the contest and is posing a nuisance to Anand Singh, a BJP candidate.

UB Banakar, former Hirekerur BJP MLA has reluctantly agreed to bury the hatchet and is seen publicly campaigning for BC Patil, JDS turned INC MLA and now a BJP candidate.

On the other hand, Sharat Bachhegowda has raised a banner of protest in Hoskote against MTB Nagaraj, former INC minister turned BJP candidate. The ruling party cadres do admit that they are fighting a losing battle! Elsewhere like in KR Puram, Yeshvantpura and Mahalakshmi Layout the initial animosity against the new BJP candidates has subsided.

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