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Cong drubs JD-S in bypolls

Bangalore, August 24, 2013, DHNS: 2:23 IST

Jolt to Deve Gowda; HDK offers to quit party, Assembly posts

Actor and Congress candidate Ramya goes in procession after her victory inMandya on Saturday. KPN
The ruling Congress wrested two Lok Sabha seats — Mandya and Bangalore Rural— from the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), in the by-elections held on August 21.

While the victory has boosted the image of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the party, the drubbing in the Vokkaliga belt has dealt a severe blow to the Deve Gowda-led JD-S, which was backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) .

Film actor Ramya of the Congress won the Mandya Lok Sabha seat by defeating seasoned JD-S politician C S Puttaraju by a victory margin of 67,611 votes. In Bangalore Rural, D K Suresh, the younger brother of Congress MLA D K Shivakumar, trounced Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha by 1,37,007 votes.

A shocked Kumaraswamy has offered to step down as both party president as well as leader of the Opposition in the Assembly. Deve Gowda was not available for his comments.

The counting of votes, which began at 8 am on Saturday, was completed before noon.

The Congress had secured leads in all the Assembly segments in the two Lok Sabha constituencies except in Ramanagara in Bangalore Rural and Melkote in Mandya, where the JD-S got more votes than others. Samajwadi Party MLA C P Yogeshwara had supported the Congress in Bangalore Rural, while the Raitha Sangha supported the party candidate in Mandya.

A jubilant Siddaramaiah said that if one were to go by the results, the Congress would win not less than 20 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. State Congress chief G Parameshwara said the party will try to end the monopoly of the Deve Gowda family in Hassan district. Siddaramaiah has every reason to rejoice because he has left his one-time leader Deve Gowda humiliated in the Vokkaliga belt.

Mud-slinging and making personal accusations had marked the Mandya poll campaign. Ramya’s lineage was questioned by a JD-S leader who eventually had to tender an apology.

The campaign also saw her shedding tears as she lost her foster father after filing the nomination papers. Though she contested the polls reluctantly, she did manage to win with too many senior Congress leaders, including S M Krishna and minister Ambareesh, standing by her.
The winners faced elections for the first time. And both of them have secured more votes than their predecessor had secured in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. They will be MPs for a maximum of 10 months. The by-elections were necessitated following the resignation of Kumaraswamy from Bangalore Rural and his party colleague N Cheluvarayaswamy from Mandya. The turnout of voters in the constituencies was low.

The victory for the Congress has come at a time when Siddaramaiah has just completed 100 days in office and party central leaders are getting ready for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Probably, Siddaramaiah could not have asked for anything more when he is taking credit for being pro-poor by launching the Anna Bhagya scheme, extending subsidy for farmers through Karnataka Milk Federation and introducing free milk supply scheme in government schools. The elections, which were faced by both parties reluctantly, witnessed certain experiments as well as war of words among leaders.

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