Sympathy factor works in Gundlupet, Dalit Pride fails in Nanjungud

Sympathy factor works in Gundlupet, Dalit Pride fails in Nanjungud

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had sweat a lot for the victory of the party candidates in the Nanjungud and Gundlupet assembly constituencies. So also BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa. But it is Siddaramaiah who had the last laugh. He could not have aspired for more when the general elections are just less than a year and the BJP is aggressively marketing Yeddyurappa, a prominent Lingayat leader, as the next chief minister of Karnataka.

Congress’ Nanjungud candidate Kalale Keshavamurthy has won against veteran politician and BJP candidate V Srinivas Prasad. The victory margin is 21,334 votes. In Gundlupet, Congress candidate  M C Mohana Kumarai (Geetha Mahadev Prasad) has won against her BJP rival C S Niranjan Kumar. The victory margin is 10,877. The victory margins are impressive, indeed.

In terms of percentage of votes, Geetha has secured 51.59% of the total votes polled, while Niranjankumar polled 45.37% of the total votes. In 2013, Geetha’s husband and the late minister H S Mahadev Prasad had secured 45.42% of the total votes, Niranjankumar as KJP candidate - 40.69%, BJP - 1.23% and JD (S) - 2.47%. This indicates that the Congress’ choice of selection of candidate, banking on sympathy factor as well as cashing in on the popularity of the late Lingayat leader Mahadev Prasad have yielded positive results. Geetha, a novice to politics and an urbanite, has been able to make it to the legislative assembly, thanks to the loyal voters of the Congress.

Coming to the Nanjungud SC Reserved constituency, the Congress’ Kalale Keshavamurthy has secured 55.15% of the total 1,56,315 votes polled, while his rival Srinivas Prasad with the Lotus symbol had got 41.50% . In the 2013 elections, Prasad as Congress nominee had secured 36.01% of the total votes polled, Kalale Keshavamurthy as the JD (S) candidate - 29.67% and BJP’s candidate Dr Shivaram - 5.02%. The JD (S), despite doing well last time, this time did not field a candidate here. Keshavamurthy settled for the Congress.  

It will remain a mystery as to why JD (S) national president H D Deve Gowda and his son H D Kumaraswamy decided to keep off the bypoll where it had done well last time. The Gowdas keep saying voters should encourage regional parties. But it has directly or indirectly helped the Siddaramaiah led Congress by keeping off from the poll battle. The Gowdas had said that if Prasad contested as Independent, then the JD(S) would support him. But Prasad shook hands with Yeddyurappa much to the surprise and disappointment of his long time associates who more inclined to the Leftist ideologies. Embracing S M Krishna, a Vokkaliga, and make him campaign has also not helped the BJP.

Both the constituencies are Lingayat dominated as well as Congress belt. The highest number of voters in Nanjungud and Gundlupet belong to the powerful Lingayat community, followed by voters belonging to the SC/STs. Yeddyurappa tried his best to make the Lingayat-Dalit combination work in Nanjungud. Prasad had often dubbed the bypoll as Dalit Pride Vs Arrogance/Betrayal of Siddaramaiah. Dalits might have been hurt because of the unceremonial exit of Srinivas Prasad from the Congress. But they have not expressed it while exercising their vote. After the poll debacle, Prasad has announced his retirement from electoral politics.

What the bypoll results means to Siddaramaiah, Yeddyurappa and Deve Gowda or H D Kumaraswamy? They mean a lot to.

First let us look at the results from the Congress’ point of view. Siddaramaiah can face the 2018 elections with more confidence and vigour. His position in the party has become more secure. He has succeeded in checkmating the efforts of the BJP to spread its wings to this part of the Old Mysuru region. He can continue to assume  that people of Karnataka have endorsed many of his pro-Ahinda schemes including the flagship scheme - Anna Bhagya. He can continue to believe that he is the champion of Dalits and OBCs. He can also have a major say in selection of candidates for the assembly polls. In a way, the Congress’ dependence on Siddaramaiah would increase.

BJP’s strongman Yeddyurappa had slogged during the bypolls. For the first time, the party experimented making a combination of Dalit-Lingayat  to work here. He tried to strengthen the party base in parts of the old Mysuru region where it has hardly any presence. But the experiment has not worked in its favour. Yeddyurappa would now have to be more accommodative and allow senior leaders to have a say in the party matters. If Siddaramaiah continues to get support from the Gowda clan, then the BJP’s dream of reaching 150+ in 2018 would be a tough task.

The JD (S) has a reason to smile. The results show that it is not easy for the BJP to spread its base in rural Myusuru belt. To that extent, Deve Gowda can be happy.

Siddaramaiah, during the post-poll, had said that the results would not be an indicator to the 2018 polls. He may be right because usually voters choose to settle for ruling party in bypolls. It is easy to get work done being with a party which is in power than struggle being in the Opposition wing. Whatever could be the reasons to win in the bypolls, it is time for Siddaramaiah enjoy the sweet victory

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