Karnataka bypolls: The battle lines are drawn

Congress president Rahul Gandhi (right) meets Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru. (PTI File Photo)

The battle lines have been drawn for the November 3 bypolls to three Lok Sabha seats and two Assembly constituencies with an interesting contest in store between the JD(S)-Congress coalition combine and the BJP.

The high voltage poll battle is being dubbed as the semi-final to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Tuesday was the last day for filing nominations.

The most keenly watched constituencies will be Bellary and Shimoga Lok Sabha segments where the alliance partners and the BJP have taken victory as a matter of prestige.

The Bellary bypolls is turning out to be a keenly fought proxy war between Congress Man Friday D K Shivakumar and BJP's powerful Nakaya community leader B Sriramulu. Sriramulu’s sister J Shanta is pitted against Congress MLC V S Ugrappa in the mine-rich district and a no holds bar campaign is expected in the coming days.

Shimoga is witnessing an unprecedented fight among the sons of three former chief ministers. JD(S) has fielded former chief minister S Bangarappa’s son Madhu to take on BJP strongman B S Yeddyurappa’s son B Y Raghavendra. Mahima Patel, son of another former chief minister J H Patel is in the fray as the JD(U) candidate.

A high-pitched campaign is also expected in the constituency with Madhu likely to tap the popularity of his brother-in-law and Sandalwood actor Shiva Rajkumar, while the who-is-who of the BJP is likely to canvass for Raghavendra.

Anand Nyamegouda, the son of the late MLA Siddu Nyamegowda, is pitted against two-time legislator Srikanth Kulkarni of the BJP. It will be a challenge for the BJP here as a rebellion has broken out in the party following the selection of Kulkarni.

The bypoll was necessitated following the death of sitting Siddu Nyamegowda and sympathy factor is expected to play a major role in an otherwise BJP stronghold.

Down South, too, the BJP is witnessing a backlash on its choice of candidates for the Mandya Lok Sabha and Ramanagara Assembly seats.

Local workers are up in arms against the party leaders for fielding L Chandrashekar, son of Congress MLC C M Lingappa from Ramanagar and former government officer Siddaramaiah from Mandya.

Chandrashekar is facing Anita, the wife of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, while Siddaramaiah is pitted against former legislator L R Shivarame Gowda of the JD(S). Both the constituencies are considered to be the bastions of the JD(S).

Initially, with the Congress, Gowda, a two-time MLA, defected to the BJP due to internal differences in 2009. He contested the Mandya Lok Sabha polls that year and was defeated by N Cheluvarayaswamy of the JD(S). Gowda is back in the JD(S) now.

It will be a do or die battle for all the three parties in the bypolls and the results are sure to set the political mood in the state for the coming months.

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Karnataka bypolls: The battle lines are drawn

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