'JD(S) may come a cropper, despite HDK's bravado'

While the party has played by the book as far as caste representation goes, retaining the three constituencies that the party won last year - Mahalakshmi Layout, Hunsur and KR Pet - will be a challenge

While JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy has vowed to defeat all the rebel MLAs now contesting bypolls from BJP, party sources and political pundits believe that the regional party faces an uphill task.

At least 10 of the 14 nominated candidates are first-timers. Among the candidates are seven Vokkaligas, five Lingayats, one Kuruba and two Muslims. While the party has played by the book as far as caste representation goes, retaining the three constituencies that the party won last year - Mahalakshmi Layout, Hunsur and KR Pet - will be a challenge, sources said.

A JD(S) leader, requesting anonymity, summarised thus: "We expect to win in Yeshwantpur. We have a strong base in Chikkaballapur, an upper hand in KR Pet and a slight advantage in Gokak. That apart, the party has no expectations."

In the 2018 Assembly elections, the party's candidate from Yeshwantpur, T N Javarayi Gowda, gave a tough fight to S T Somashekar, who is now contesting from the BJP. The JD(S) also has a good base in Chikkaballapur. "Since the Congress candidate is weak here, the party is expecting minority votes to come its way," a source said.

The old Mysore region is likely to vote in favour of the Congress, former political science professor from University of Mysore, Muzaffar Assadi, said.

"D K Shivakumar will play a role. Considering that this region is the Vokkaliga heartland, there is a perception of humiliation meted out to their leader. Another factor that might shift votes is the death of V G Siddharatha, son-in-law of former CM S M Krishna and founder of Cafe Coffee Day," he said.

Even though the JD(S) is not strong in North Karnataka, some leaders pinned hopes on Gokak. While the Jarkiholi brothers-- Ramesh and Lakhan Jarkiholi - are contesting from BJP and Congress, respectively, JD(S) candidate Ashok Pujari is likely to benefit from the split of votes within the family.

Sources in the party said fielding Shivalinga Shivacharya Swami of Kabbinakanti Mutt from Hirekerur was likely to go in favour of JD(S). The Lingayat pontiff is not expected to win, but might split the votes of BJP's B C Patil, who belongs to the same Lingayat sub-group as the seer. 

Strategic move

Political analyst D Umapathi felt it was a strategic move by the JD(S) to facilitate BJP government's stability in the state by fielding fresh faces.

"If Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda make up their mind, they give a good fight. But this time, it doesn't appear that way."

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