After a wrap up of the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka on April 23, political parties have now shifted their focus towards the two Assembly bypolls which are crucial for the stability of the state government.
The elections to Chincholi and Kundgol Assembly seats are slated for May 19. At Chincholi, BJP’s Avinash Jadhav is pitted against Subhash Rathod of the Congress-JD(S) combine, while Kundgol will witness a battle between BJP’s Chikkanagouda Patil and Congress-JD(S)’s Kusumavathi Shivalli.
The Chincholi seat fell vacant after sitting MLA Umesh Jadhav resigned from the party to join the BJP and contested the Lok Sabha election against Mallikarjuna Kharge from the Gulbarga constituency. Kundgol goes to bypoll following the death of sitting MLA C S Shivalli.
Banking on blood
BJP’s Avinash is the son of Umesh Jadhav. Despite speculations that Jadhav’s brother would get the party’s ticket to the constituency, the party gave ticket to Avinash after the former rejected the offer on health grounds.
The BJP which has been vociferous in its opposition to dynasty politics, fell for the winnability factor of Avinash in the region. In its desperate attempt to topple the ruling government, the party has fielded a candidate from the same family to increase its seats in the Assembly.
Congress too has played its share of dynasty politics by fielding Kusumavathi, the wife of late MLA CS Shivalli from Kundgol.
On April 28, a war of words broke out between members of the two parties, after they announced their respective candidates.
BJP’s national joint secretary BL Santosh said that giving tickets to candidates on the basis of genes was not right. Congress MLA Priyank Kharge, son of Mallikarjuna Kharge took a dig at the BJP by saying that DNA seems to matter the most to the BJP as it gave the ticket to Jadhav’s son.
Tug of war for majority
The Congress-JD(S) combine formed the government last year with 118 seats, five above the required majority. After the death of Congressman CS Shivalli and the resignation of Umesh Jadhav from JD(S), the alliance lost its two Assembly seats, bypolls to which are on May 19.
Sitting MLA Krishna Byre Gowda and Eshwar Khandre who hold two Assembly seats contested for Lok Sabha elections this year. There will be bypolls to the two Assembly seats if they win the Lok Sabha elections. If they give up their Assembly seats and if rebel MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi quits the party, the coalition government number would fall to 113.
The BJP, which had 104 seats, hopes to win the two assembly seats to increase its tally in the Assembly, and woo a few rebel MLAs to its fold so as to topple the current government.
Both the BJP and the Congress exude confidence of winning the bypolls. If the Congress emerges victorious and no other MLAs defect, the government would remain stable. But if it loses, the government will be on a shaky ground.
“We will win the bypolls and there’s no threat to the ruling coalition. Since last year, the BJP has been pushing hard to destabilise the government. They won’t be successful,” Sathyan Puthoor, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee secretary had earlier told The Federal.
After the Lok Sabha elections, BJP leaders including B S Yeddyurappa gave statements saying the party will form the government in the state after May 23. The Congress-JD(S) earlier thwarted several attempts made by Yeddyurappa to lure its leaders with money and ministerial berths to form the government.
To add to the woes of the ruling coalition, Congress legislator S T Somashekar on April 28 shot a letter to his party colleagues to discuss the ‘worsening’ political situation in the state. If he begins a rebellion, it could give a fillip to the BJP.
The bitter coordination between the ruling partners in some of the Lok Sabha seats in the South Karnataka region where Congress ceded tickets to JD(S), could also lead to a tug of war after polls results are declared. BJP pins its hopes on this factor so that it could grab a few MLAs to its fold.
Hence, the Lok Sabha results and the bypolls are crucial for both the BJP and the Congress-JD (S) combine. The parties are putting up a strong fight and leaving no stone unturned before the bypolls.