Cong expels councillors as bypoll fight gets tougher

While Congress is trying to put up a fight against Somashekar in Yeshwantpur, observers say the real contest is between him and T N Javarayi Gowda of the JD(S). In the May 2018 elections, Gowda lost to Somashekhar by about 10,000 votes.

Bypolls in the four Bengaluru constituencies are proving to be a tough battle for the Congress as the party on Tuesday expelled three party workers, including two councillors, for “anti-party” activities in the Yeshwantpur segment.

BBMP councillors Rajanna (Herohalli) and Arya Srinivas (Hemmigepura) along with Bilekahalli Block Congress Committee member K V Patel Raju have been expelled from the party’s primary membership for six years after they were found campaigning for disqualified legislator S T Somashekar, who is contesting on the BJP ticket. They were expected to work in favour of Congress’ P Nagaraj. 

This takes the number of expulsions to seven, including four councillors from KR Puram who were shown the door last week. Councillors are seen as key agents at the local level to drum up support during elections. The expulsions signify Congress’ troubles. 

In KR Puram, councillors B N Jayaprakash (Basavanapura), M N Srikanth (Devasandra), V Suresh (A Narayanapura) and S G Nagaraj (Vijnananagar) were also expelled for six years after they were found rallying for disqualified legislator Byrathi Basavaraj. He is the BJP candidate against Congress MLC M Narayanaswamy. The Congress is on guard against Basavaraj, who is said to have clout over party workers. 

While Congress is trying to put up a fight against Somashekar in Yeshwantpur, observers say the real contest is between him and T N Javarayi Gowda of the JD(S). In the May 2018 elections, Gowda lost to Somashekhar by about 10,000 votes.

Two more councillors — Netravati Krishnegowda (Ramaswamy Palya) and M K Gunashekhar (Jayamahal) — are on under Congress’ lens as they are believed to be unresponsive to the campaign of the party’s Shivajinagar candidate Rizwan Arshad. Apparently, a section of Congress workers in Shivajinagar is loyal to R Roshan Baig, the disqualified legislator who is believed to be extending his support to BJP’s M Sharavana. Baig and Arshad have a no-love-lost relationship. 

At Mahalakshmi Layout, the Congress’ poll managers say the upper hand is with the BJP, which has fielded disqualified JD(S) legislator K Gopalaiah. “Like Basavaraj in KR Puram, Gopalaiah has clout that is working against us,” a Congress leader said. 

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