While infighting in the Congress and the JD(S) camps has dampened the spirits of the party cadres, the absence of any star candidate or kin of political heavyweights in the fray for the Mandya Lok Sabha bypolls has made electioneering in this hotbed of Vokkaliga politics, a lacklustre exercise.
Wednesday - a day before campaigning activities draw to a close, saw the district wearing a deserted look, not giving any indications of a contest on cards.
With the exception of the BJP making half-hearted attempts at luring the electorate, there was no sign of either the JD(S) or Congress workers or leaders on the ground involved in active campaigning. The coalition candidate - L R Shivaramegowda, had left constituency itself to Bengaluru, where he resides.
Leaders of both the JD(S)-Congress combine and the BJP were however quick to point out that massive rallies, led by top leaders, were planned on Thursday.
Read more: BJP pulling out all stops to get a foothold in Mandya
Shivaramegowda, a two-time MLA, and a relatively new entrant to the JD(S), is taking on retired bureaucrat Siddaramaiah, who is a political greenhorn.
Given Mandya’s loyalty to the H D Deve Gowda family and it’s disinclination toward the saffron party, this contest was said to be one-sided - in favour of the JD(S).
However, resentment among the local Congress leaders over its party’s decision to hand over the constituency to the JD(S) has turned out to be an advantage to the BJP, which is desperate to make inroads here.
The party is trying to encash on every wrong step by the ruling parties. Deriding Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy for his teary eyed speeches and “election gimmicks,” the BJP has taken on the government for failing to address farmer issues and the unabated farmer suicides.
While portraying Siddaramaiah as a “clean” candidate, the BJP has been going
to town about the other alleged criminal charges being faced by Shivaramegowda,
including a cheque bounce case.
The Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha’s decision to stay “neutral” in the elections, is also said to work in BJP’s favour. Members of the Sangha are upset with Kumaraswamy taking a dig at its defeated candidate, Darshan Puttannaiah, during a rally recently.
Darshan, son of deceased farmer leader K S Puttannaiah, had contested the Assembly elections in May on a Swaraj India ticket. Though the Congress had extended him support, he had lost the Melkote seat to JD(S)’s C S Puttaraju.
Incidentally, the November 3 bypoll was necessitated following Puttaraju’s resignation as Mandya MP.
Shivaramegowda however remains unfazed by the developments. Maintaining that there was no opposition to his candidature, the JD(S) candidate conceded that the BJP was bound to increase its vote share in these elections.
“But I will bet that the party will not fetch more than 1.5 lakh votes. I will surely get more than 10 lakh votes, ” he claimed, while speaking to DH over phone.