BJP needs disqualified MLAs to swing it for them

B S Yediyurappa. (DH Photo)

The ruling BJP will need a massive swing in votes in 11 out of the 15 Assembly constituencies that are headed towards the crucial December 5 bye-elections, according to polling data from last year’s election.  

If that does not sound like an uphill task, the BJP will also need to ensure that those who won last year - the disqualified rebel legislators whom the party is backing - still retain enough hold in their constituencies to get re-elected based on their personal charisma. 

In four seats, the worry for Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa is that the BJP has little or no electoral base - Chikballapur, Yeshwanthpur, KR Pet and Hunsur - where the party’s vote share ranged between 3.21% and 20.65%. In seven other seats, the BJP has some electoral ground to cover in order to exceed the votes polled by the Congress and the JD(S), last year. 

That is why the BJP hopes that the Supreme Court verdict will pave the way for the disqualified MLAs to contest the bypolls, so that their individual clout and support base will add to the saffron vote share. 

The BJP’s vote share in Athani, Yellapur, Hirekerur and Hoskote is not too far behind - just under 5% - the Congress’. 

With the polls nearing, both the BJP and the Congress are working on the poll arithmetic. 

“It’s safe to say that there will be considerable cross-currents,” Congress’ former minister Krishna Byre Gowda said. He pointed out that in Chikballapur, for example, the BJP has a tough battle with disqualified legislator K Sudhakar as its candidate.

“That’s because the BJP does not have enough of its own vote bank for Sudhakar to fall back on,” Gowda said. “It’s the same for the BJP in some other seats also. But having said that, the contest will not be lopsided either.” The Congress is also wary of the clout these disqualified MLAs wield in their constituencies. 

In several constituencies, the BJP will need the personal vote bank of the disqualified MLAs and also retain its own vote share, which could be a challenge. In Hoskote, for instance, the Bachegowda family has its own clout. But with Sharath Bachegowda, the BJP’s defeated candidate, threatening to rebel, the saffron party’s vote share may take a hit. 

The threat of such rebellion looms large on the BJP in other constituencies where its leaders lost narrowly last year, and are demanding the bypoll ticket. 


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