The Election Commission has announced by-polls in 3 Lok Sabha and 2 Assembly seats in Karnataka which are to be held on November 3rd and the result of the same would be out on November 6th. It is bound to be a high voltage contest, given that it going to take place in the run up to the 2019 general elections and it is already being dubbed as a virtual semi-final for the Lok Sabha elections to be held the next year. The results of these polls are bound to make clear the public perception and leanings in Karnataka and the results of the polls will also be taken as an indicator of what is going to happen next year in the Lok Sabha 2019 elections.
Shimoga, Bellary and Mandya Lok Sabha seats fell vacant after the resignations of BS Yeddyurappa and B Sriramulu of the BJP, and CS Puttaraju of the JDS, as they were elected to the Karnataka legislative assembly. The newly elected candidates to the Lok Sabha will get a tenure of only six months as the Lok Sabha will then be dissolved when the general elections are held. However, the JDS-Congress combine and the opposition party in Karnataka, BJP have fielded strong candidates for the by-pollss. It is clear that the unholy JDS-Congress alliance as well as the BJP understand the gravity of these by-polls.
Shimoga is being seen as the most important constituency among the three which are up for grabs in the by-polls in Karnataka. It is a BJP stronghold and is seen as Yeddyurappa’s fiefdom. BJP has fielded Yeddyurappa’s son BY Raghavendra from this crucial seat. Former JDS MLA Madhu Bangarappa, the son of former chief minister S Bangarappa, has been fielded by the JDS-Congress combine in Shimoga. It is going to be a crucial battle and it is almost imperative for Yeddyurappa’s son to secure a victory from this seat in order to maintain his father’s prestige and clout in the party and the state. Yeddyurappa himself seems pretty confident and has stated, “There is no fight in Shimoga. My son Raghavendra will win easily. Let the JDS and Congress do whatever they want. The Congress does not even have a candidate. That’s why they have given the seat to JDS.”
Mandya polls are going to be yet another battle of prestige. It is the stronghold of the Gowdas in Karnataka. A defeat for the ruling coalition in this constituency is bound to hurt them badly. The JDS-Congress alliance has fielded former MLA LR Shivarame Gowda while the BJP has fielded retired government official Siddaramaiah from Mandya for the by-polls. JDS enjoys a very good track record here and had swept all eight seats in the recent Assembly polls. The BJP ended up losing deposits in all these seats. In this sense, the signs for the BJP are not very encouraging for the by-polls. However, the local Congress workers and leaders are reportedly not on very good terms with their coalition partner JDS and have expressed displeasure over the alliance with the JDS. The BJP has a chance of exploiting this situation by wooing the disenchanted Congress functionaries.
In the Bellary Lok Sabha which is a Reddy stronghold, the BJP again seems to have a strong chance. It is the former constituency of political heavyweight B Sriramulu and now his younger sister, J Shantha has been fielded by the BJP from this seat. The Congress has fielded MLC VS Ugrappa ignoring the claims of Congress MLA B Nagendra’s brother Venkatesh Prasad. The Congress which was already facing an uphill task is now facing further problems as Reddy brothers have expressed displeasure over this and have threatened that Water Resources minister D K Shivakumar, in-charge of the campaign for the by-polls, will have to go back disappointed.
The JDS-Congress coalition and BJP are giving their everything to win these by-polls. Both the outfits understand that these polls will dictate terms for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka. The unholy ruling coalition and the BJP have both fielded strong candidates and heavyweights for the upcoming polls. The political scene is going to intensify in the run up to these by-polls as the results are going to have a direct impact on the Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka next year.