The Congress in Karnataka is fighting hard to retain two of its assembly seats in Gundlupet and Nanjangud in the upcoming bypolls. With candidates from the BJP and the Congress filing nominations on Monday, the stage is set for a fierce two-way battle. While Nanjangud is the real challenge for both parties, Congress hopes to sail smoothly on a sympathy wave in the Gundlupet bypoll.
The seat fell vacant after the sudden demise of Karnataka cabinet minister H S Mahadeva Prasad. The five-time legislator from the constituency had an impressive record and enjoyed mass support. Banking on his vote bank, image and consecutive wins along with the sympathy wave they could reply on, the Congress was quick to announce his wife, Geetha Mahadev Prasad, as their candidate for the bypoll. Geetha who is a novice has always maintained a distance from politics but has jumped into the fray on Siddaramaiah's assurance of full support. Her interests have always been academics and never politics, but her husband's appeal in the constituency is what the Congress hopes to tap along with riding the sympathy wave.
For the BJP, winning the Gundlupet bypoll is important to prove a surge ahead of the 2018 assembly polls. While the Nanjangud seat may seem like a cakewalk, Gundlupet is the real challenge for the BJP. The BJP has fielded Niranjan Kumar who contested from the constituency in 2008 on a BJP ticket but followed B S Yeddyurappa to the Karnataka Janata Paksha. Niranjan Kumar is a B S Yeddyurappa loyalist and was his pick for the bypoll. While B S Yeddyurappa is vigorously campaigning in both constituencies, he has appointed C T Ravi and Aravind Limbavali to focus on Gundlupet.
For the Congress, it is a fight to retain its seats and prove BJP's claims of anti-incumbency wrong while for the BJP it is a matter of breaching Congress bastions in the Mysuru region. While BJP hopes that Geetha Mahadevprasad's lack of political experience helps them gain votes, the Congress is banking on Mahadevprasad's mass appeal and the sympathy wave to work for them in the April 9 bypoll.