Thanks to the outcome of by-polls to 15 Assembly constituencies, it looks the voters of Karnataka are unanimous in their verdict against the Indian National Congress (INC) and Janata Dal-Secular [JD(S)]: ‘Keep Your Mouth Shut!’ The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders were themselves not sure until yesterday that they would be able to garner a dozen seats to their tally. For public consumption, all of them kept reiterating like school children, “We will win all the 15 seats” in a voice that did not appear to be all that confident.
In fact, they were perturbed by the initial reports of the State intelligence agency, which had projected a result of 6:3:6 meaning six to BJP, three to JD(S) and six to the INC. While the INC and JD(S) leaders were toying with the idea of forming the second series of INC-JD(S) coalition government, BJP managers were seriously setting up in motion “Operation Lotus 2” to poach seven INC and three JD(S) legislators.
But people of the 15 constituencies had an altogether different plan for all the three parties. They gave a handsome 12 seats to the ruling party and two to the main opposition party INC, one to an Independent and washed out the JD(S), stripping the party of the Deve Gowdas of all the three seats they held earlier.
Thanks to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s ‘clarion call’ or emotional blackmail of Lingayats to vote en masse for BJP candidates to ensure safe passage to the saffron party’s government in Karnataka for the remaining three and a half years tenure, the strategy clicked. The ruling party grabbed all the seven constituencies in northern Karnataka. Athani, Kagwad and Gokak in Belagavi district, Yellapur in North Canara district, Hirekerur and Ranebennur in Haveri district and Vijayanagar in Ballari district, all coming under the purview of north Karnataka were swept by the ruling party.
Not only that, all the winning BJP candidates won with huge, unassailable leads. Even Narayana Gowda triumphed in Krishnarajpet of Mandya district, a strong Vokkaliga belt by a margin close to 10,000 votes.
Hoskote in Bengaluru Rural district as on expected lines chose to prefer Sharat Bachegowda, Independent candidate and son of BN Bachegowda, Chikkaballapur BJP Lok Sabha MP. It may be worthwhile recalling here that the BJP MP never stepped out of his house in the city to campaign for the party candidate. On the other hand, party insiders confide: But he did everything possible sitting at home to ensure the victory of his political heir who incidentally happens to be a US returned software engineer.
So it’s just but natural for MTB Nagaraj, defeated BJP candidate in his outbursts: BN Bachegowda is directly responsible for my defeat in the bye-polls.
In Shivajinagar constituency of Bengaluru Urban district, M Sarvana, former BJP corporator who had deserted the party made a re-entry on the eve of bye-elections. He joined the party in the morning and was gifted with the party ticket by evening.
According to BJP sources, he never took the elections seriously and hardly engaged himself in real electioneering. He is also said to have preferred to advertise only in Tamil newspapers and kept away the Kannada one’s. Had the party fielded a serious contender, BJP could have snatched one more seat in the city.
Thus, Rizwan Arshad, Congress candidate became the beneficiary, having lost two Lok Sabha polls consecutively became third time lucky to make it to the Assembly in his maiden attempt. The constituency registered dismal polling of 42%, depicting the voter apathy.
Siddaramaiah, former chief minister campaigned across the state single-handedly as none of the old guns preferred to share the dais with a relative newcomer. But such unfriendly behaviour of the party men was no deterrent for the former JD(S) leader.
He went on a whirlwind tour attacking the disqualified MLAs’ turned BJP candidates, BS Yediyurappa and the ruling BJP leaders in a most unpleasant manner. Instead of appealing to elect his own party nominees he declared: At any cost disqualified MLAs’ should be defeated. Take money from them but vote for us!
Probably Jagadish Shettar, former BJP chief minister and currently Minister of Large and Medium scale Industries was apt in his reaction at Hubballi today: The mudslinging negative campaign of the opposition parties looks to have helped us in getting a favourable result.
Siddaramaiah’s public diatribe, sarcastic jokes and sweeping remarks against the adversaries made one wonder whether he had been taking acting lessons to perform on public platforms!
All such mannerism didn’t go well with his own senior party colleagues as they were all busy plotting to unseat him from the position of leader of the Congress Legislature Party(CLP) soon after the bye-polls. And the D day came today with Siddaramaiah himself announcing his resignation.
He was not the only one to quit. Dinesh Gundurao also resigned to his position of president, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee(KPCC). Ishwar Khandre, working president of the KPCC, however, cancelled his hurriedly called press conference this evening.
When DK Shivakumar, former power minister was released on bail after spending more than 50 days in police lockup and Tihar jail, the Congress party leaders had claimed it to be a big morale booster to the party on the eve of bye-polls. They had also hinted at turning tables to the party’s advantage. In spite of being behind bars for money laundering related cases, he was accorded a tumultuous welcome in many places of the state as if he had returned accomplishing a yeoman task. He initially cited health reasons for not campaigning actively but did so later. Even then his so-called magic didn’t work.
But one thing these results have proved once again according to the ruling party insiders: BS Yediyurappa, irrespective of any a number of detractors including Nalin Kumar Kateel, state party president who has literally become ‘kabab men haddi, has reiterated that he alone continues to remain an undisputed mass leader of the party in Karnataka.
Karnataka experienced unprecedented floodwaters havoc displacing thousands of people and loss of property, cattle and fertile fields. But the Central government chose to adopt a step-motherly treatment in coming to the rescue of the affected victims.
In spite of formal official surveys’ and ministers’ visits, no financial aid was extended to the State. Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to the city but didn’t express a word of consolation for the state people in distress nor BS Yediyurappa given an appointment to submit a memorandum!
The CM and BJP leaders had a tough time in consoling the floodwaters victims and faced their wrath during electioneering campaigns. Some sceptics had forecasted a washout of the ruling party in all the Seven constituencies of North Karnataka but the results have proved them otherwise!
Vijay Bhaskar Reddy, a senior advocate of the state high court, sums it up: “I am happy with the results as they have given a clear message of stability not bothering whether the ruling party nominees are defectors or not. This development has paved the way for a smooth transition rather than being under the mercy of coalition partners.”