Karnataka Lok Sabha bypolls: Acid test for Congress-JDS alliance
Bengaluru, Oct 8: Ever since the Election Commission announced bypoll for three Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka, Congress is more than unhappy with bypolls just ahead of 2019 general elections. Prima facie the bypoll looks like a waste of public money for the voters and the candidates as well. But BJP has strategic advantages in these by-elections.
On bypolls for three Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said the polls were uncalled for citing waste of resources for a term of 5-6 months as a reason.
"Assembly elections are important but announcing by-poll election without taking state govt into confidence...Those who contest these will have to bear election expenses only for a term of 5-6 months. They could've stopped it but they've done this earlier too whenever they want, they postpone/pre-pone election. It wasn't needed. Some areas are facing drought, some flooded. Due to Model Code of Conduct, no work can be done," Mallikarjun Kharge was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
However, the BJP isn't naive to press for elections even after knowing that the term will end in less than a year. Taking into account advantages it will have ahead of 2019 elections it sounds a good move.
First of all, with elected MPs, the BJP can sabotage advances of Congress-JDs alliance in these Lok Sabha constituencies. As Congress-JDs coalition, which was believed to collapse sooner or later, is going strong in Karnataka. The coalition will try to strengthen base in these constituencies. Without an MP on top, BJP may find it difficult to counter the coalition. Out of three, Ballari and Shimoga were held by the BJP, and Mandya by JDS. Both Shimoga and Ballari have been BJP bastions. But JDS and Congress combined together may or may not make the difference.
Secondly, it gives an opportunity to see how the pre-poll Congress-JDS alliance will fare against the BJP. If BJP wins that breaks the confidence of the alliance. Even if BJP is over-confident of winning Ballari and Shimoga there is no surprise as the previous elections have shown it.
BJP has been making progress in Shimoga since 1998. BY Raghavendra and his father BS Yeddyurappa won the LS seat in 2009 and 2004 respectively. Yeddyurappa got 53.63 per cent of total votes in the last general election. This time, Yeddyurappa will leave no stone unturned to get a ticket for his son. But depends on BJP high command. As we know in the last assembly election his son Vijayendra was denied ticket at the last minute.
In Ballari, BJP is on winning streak since 2004. G. Karunakara Reddy won in 2004, J. Shantha in 2009 and B. Sriramulu in 2014. Definitely, Reddy brothers and Sriramulu will try to maintain the hold in the district. Overall, Congress-JDS will not have a cakewalk in Shimoga and Ballari.
The only hope for the alliance is Mandya which is a solid Vokkaliga bastion. JDS won in 2009 and 2014 and the BJP is yet to open its account. JDS may not agree to give away Mandya for Congress as it had won the seat in 2014. In coalition politics, winning party does not give up its seat to its ally.
The moment bypoll announced, Congress-JDS coalition is in a state of confusion about candidates selections. Especially, finding candidates in Ballari and Shimoga constituencies will be easy for Congress. Already, the Congress is witnessing infighting due to delay in Cabinet expansion. It is challenging for Congress to chart out a strategy for the bypolls and managing the disgruntled MLAs.