Karnataka bypolls: Setback for Congress as BJP bags two seats

Karnataka bypolls: Setback for Congress as BJP bags two seats

The Congress suffered a setback with the party losing two of the three Assembly constituencies in the recently held by-elections, the results for which were announced on Tuesday. 

The outcome is likely to have a bearing on the second phase of polling for Zilla and Taluk panchayat elections which is seen as a litmus test for Siddaramaiah government’s popularity. 

The BJP retained the Hebbal seat in Bengaluru and wrested Devadurga seat in Raichur district from the Congress. Former legislator Rahim Khan proved the face saver for the Congress by wresting Bidar seat from the BJP with a huge margin of 22,825 votes.

While Y A Narayanaswamy won from Hebbal, Shivanagouda Nayak emerged victorious in Devadurga for the BJP. 

JD(S) loses deposits It was a humiliating defeat for the JD(S) as its candidates lost their deposits in all three constituencies. 

The BJP, which is eager to come back to power, claimed that the results were a referendum on the government’s performance, which Siddaramaiah flatly rejected. However, the bypoll defeat is making the Congress and the JD(S) jittery as it would have an adverse impact on the panchayat polls. The second phase of polling for Zilla and Taluk panchayat, covering 15 districts, is scheduled for February 20.
 While the BJP leaders led by Union Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda had put up a united fight in Hebbal, it was just the opposite in the Congress camp. Infighting and bickering in public during campaigning is said to have dented C K Abdul Rahaman Sharief’s chances. Rahaman is grandson of former railway minister C K Jaffer Sharief. Siddaramaiah was in favour of fielding his follower Byrati Suresh. The Vokkaliga votes is also said to have consolidated in favour of Narayanaswamy, also from the same community, mainly due to confusion in the JD(S) and protest held by the Muslims to condemn H D Deve Gowda.  Vokkaligas constitute the second largest voting population in Hebbal constituency. 

In Devadurga, the Congress failed to encash on the sympathy factor as the bypoll was necessitated after the tragic death of its MLA Venkatesh Nayak. 

BJP’s K Shivanagouda Nayak, in turn, managed to gain sympathy in his favour by stating that he deserved the victory after two successive defeats – he lost in 2013 Assembly polls and the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In Bidar, the BJP candidly admitted to having erred in candidate selection. The party  fielded Prakash Khandre, considered to be an outsider. 

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