After 4-1 semifinal win, Cong eyes mega 2019 final

After 4-1 semifinal win, Cong eyes mega 2019 final

An upbeat Congress, bolstered with the semi-final scoreline of 4-1, has sounded the bugle for the big final of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In the bypoll results that came out Tuesday, the Congress-JD(S) alliance won four seats - the Lok Sabha seats of Bellary and Mandya, the Assembly seats of Jamakhandi and Ramanagara - while the BJP managed to win the Shimoga Lok Sabha segment.

“This was a semi-final to the Parliament election and people of Karnataka have solidly proved that they are in favour of the Congress-JD(S) alliance and a Congress-led alliance (at the national level),” AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal told a press conference in Bengaluru, after it was clear that the allies had scored over the BJP. “We will definitely continue our alliance with the JD(S) for the 2019 polls.”


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The Karnataka bypoll was significant in that it was a test for the Congress-JD(S) alliance. “It’s a clear verdict to the alliance. It’s a clear approval from the people of Karnataka for this coalition and they have categorically approved the policies and programmes of the coalition headed by H D Kumaraswamy,” Venugopal added. 

There is much to worry for the BJP, which emerged as the single-largest party in the May 2018 Assembly elections with 104 seats in the 224-member Legislative Assembly. 

In a statement, BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa said he accepted the verdict. “We’d have been satisfied if we had won Bellary and Jamakhandi. Even in Shimoga, we expected to win by a huge margin. But we sailed to the bay in the flow of money the JD(S) started,” he said. 

“Truth is that in this election, money and liquor played a role. And the Congress-JD(S) alliance used money and misused power. But we will not sit quietly over this defeat. Actually, we’ve lost only Bellary. We will introspect and prepare for the 2019 polls,” the former chief minister said. 

The bypoll loss adds to a string of defeats the saffron party has faced in the recent past, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao pointed out. 

“The Congress won the bypoll to the Jayanagar and Rajarajeshwari Nagar Assembly constituencies. We also won the two Legislative Council bypolls. Recently, Congress won the highest number of local body seats. Now, we have not only defeated the BJP, but we have decimated them,” Rao said. 

The BJP won Shimoga, where Yeddyurappa’s son B Y Raghavendra polled 5.43 lakh votes against JD(S) leader Madhu Bangarappa who got 4.91 lakh votes. “But the moral victory is ours,” Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said. “Our candidate (Madhu) was abroad when we decided to field him and he has done exceedingly well,” Kumaraswamy said.

As Yeddyurappa has pointed out in his statement, the BJP did not expect to lose the way it did in the Bellary Lok Sabha and Jamakhandi Assembly seats. In Bellary, Congress’ V S Ugrappa polled 6.28 lakh votes to win by what many say is an unprecedented margin of 2.43 lakh votes against BJP’s J Shantha, the sister of the saffron party’s warhorse B Sreeramulu. “I accept responsibility for the defeat,” Sreeramulu told reporters. With this, the Congress has reclaimed Bellary and “it has once again become our bastion,” as Venugopal put it. 

The BJP was left disappointed in Jamakhandi as well. In the May 2018 polls, the saffron party’s Shrikant Kulkarni lost by a narrow margin of 2,795 votes against Congress’ Siddu Nyamagouda. Following Siddu’s tragic death in a road accident, the Congress fielded his son Anand Nyamagouda, who has now won by a margin of 39,840 votes against Kulkarni, which essentially means that the BJP lost ground since the May polls. 

With the bypoll over, talks over expanding Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet have resumed. Out of 34 Cabinet berths, the Congress has six vacant from its quota of 22 whereas the JD(S) can fill up two more out of 12. There are many ministerial aspirants in the Congress. “We had to put off the expansion because of the bypolls. But now, definitely, it will happen in a few days,” Venugopal said.