Bypolls to Belgaum Lok Sabha seat, Maski, Basavakalyan Assembly constituencies on April 17

The sensational sex scandal is likely to have some bearing on the Belgaum bypolls
Last Updated : 16 March 2021, 19:08 IST

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The Election Commission on Tuesday fixed April 17 as a poll day for the Belgaum Lok Sabha, Maski and Basavakalyan Assembly constituencies, which promises to be high on voltage and stakes for the BJP and the Congress.

The model code of conduct has come into force with immediate effect in the districts where these seats are located - Belagavi, Raichur and Bidar. The results of the bypolls will be out on May 2.

The Belgaum contest will be the first Lok Sabha bypolls in Karnataka after the BJP’s thumping victory in 2019.

The sensational sex scandal is likely to have some bearing on the Belgaum bypolls as the Congress is said to be considering fielding its working president Satish Jarkiholi, the brother of former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi who is at the centre of the controversy. The BJP is under pressure to retain Belgaum for the fourth time in a row. The seat was vacated following the death of Union Minister Suresh Angadi, necessitating the bypolls. Apparently, Angadi’s daughter and Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar’s daughter-in-law Shradha is in contention for the BJP ticket, along with MLC Mahantesh Kavatagimath, who belongs to the dominant Lingayat community and Dr Girish Sonwalkar, a medical professional who is said to have RSS roots.

The Congress will aim to retain Maski and Basavakalyan, which it had won in the 2018 Assembly elections. The Maski bypolls, necessitated due to the disqualification of Pratapgouda Patil, will see BJP vice president BY Vijayendra and general secretary N Ravikumar, known to be efficient poll managers, slog it out as they are in charge of this seat. Patil, who was with the Congress earlier, has been assured the ticket by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, it is said. The Congress has managed to lure Basanagouda Turvihal, the BJP’s 2018 defeated candidate from Maski and he is expected to get the ticket.

In Basavakalyan, where incumbent Congress MLA B Narayan Rao died due to Covid-19, the BJP hopes to woo the Lingayat and Maratha community. Yediyurappa is pushing for the Anubhava Mantapa project here, and has announced funds for the new Maratha Development Corporation. There are over a dozen aspirants for the ticket, including 2018 defeated candidate Mallikarjun Khuba. The Congress is mulling over fielding Rao’s wife Mallamma for the ‘sympathy’ factor. It is also thinking about MLC Vijay Singh.

"Earlier, the BJP won 12 out of 15 bypolls. We also won big in Rajarajeshwarinagar. We're confident of winning all three seats with a record margin," Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said.

Congress working president Saleem Ahmed said the party's cadre was upbeat in Belgaum and that the sex scandal could work in their favour. "Also, the party has a solid base in Maski and Basavakalyan," he said.

Published 16 March 2021, 14:44 IST

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