'Bitter' campaign for 5 by-elections in Karnataka ends
Bengaluru : A high-voltage campaign for the November 3 by-elections to three Lok Sabha and two assembly segments in Karnataka ended on Friday on a bitter note, as the ruling combine (JD-S- Congress) and the opposition BJP slammed each other over various issues, including defections.
Hours before the 10-day long electioneering ended at 5pm, BJP's candidate L. Chandrashekar in the Ramanagara assembly seat by-poll, resigned from the party and rejoined the Congress, as its leaders allegedly betrayed him by not campaigning for him.
"As none of the BJP leaders came forward to campaign for me, I decided to quit the party and rejoin the Congress," Chandrashekar told reporters here earlier in the day.
Chandrashekar, 49, joined the BJP on October 10 to contest in the by-poll after the Congress decided not to field its candidate against Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) nominee Anitha, wife of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.
"As our alliance partners decided to have a joint candidate in all the 5 by-polls to avoid vote split between us, Chandrashekar joined the BJP to contest on its ticket. With the BJP letting him down, he had no option but return and support Anitha," a Congress official told IANS.
Embarrassed by Chandrashekar's volte-face ahead of voting on Saturday, the BJP's state leaders were quick to blame the Congress for his defection and accused it of "buying" him to ensure Anitha's win at any cost.
"The Congress has lured Chandrashekar back into the party fold through amoney power to ensure Anitha's victory, as they were afraid of her losing to our candidate at the hustings," a BJP official told IANS.
As JD-S is confident of Anitha's win due to the overwhelming support it enjoys in its stronghold, the Congress did not enter the fray so as to consolidate their "secular" votes.
Besides Anitha, 5 independents are in the Ramangara fray.
For the Jamkhandi assembly seat, the JD-S is supporting Congress candidate Anand Siddu, son of its senior leader Siddu Nyamagouda, whose sudden death in a road mishap on May 28 necessitated the by-election. The BJP has fielded Srikant Kulkarni against Siddu.
Of the three parliamentary seats, Bellary, Shimoga and Mandya, the BJP is confident of retaining the first two in the state's north-west and Malnad (central) regions of the state.
"Our state party president B.S.Yeddyurappa resigned from Shimoga parliamentary seat after he got elected from Shikaripura assembly segment and fielded his elder son B.Y. Raghavendra, who represented the seat for a term in 2009-14," recalled the official.
The JD-S has fielded Madhu Bangarappa with the Congress support and Janata Dal (United) candidate Mahima Patel against Raghavendra.
Madu is the younger son of former Congress chief minister S. Bangarappa (1991-93) while Mahima is also son of former JD-U chief minister J.H. Patel,
In the Bellary (Scheduled Tribes) seat, the BJP has pulled all stops to ensure the victory of its woman candidate B. Shanta, who represented the constituency in the 2009-14 term.
With her brother B. Sriramulu resigning after getting elected to the assembly from Molakalmuru (ST) in Chitradurga district, the contest in the reserve Bellary has turned into a battle of nerves between the BJP and Congress, which fielded its MLC V.S. Ugrappa as he too belongs to the Valmiki tribal community.
"Congress brought an outsider to contest against Shanta, a local, as it could not find one native candidate to take on our party nominee," said the BJP official.
In the Mandya Lok Sabha b-poll, the JD-S has fielded L.R. Shivarama Gowda against Siddaramaih of the BJP as its lawmaker S. Puttaraju resigned after he was elected to the assembly from Melukote in Mandya district in the old Mysuru region. He is also Minister for Minor Irrigation in the coalition government.
The vote count in all the five by-polls is on November 6.
Though the Congress and JD-S were bitter rivals and contested against each other in the May 12 assembly elections, a hung verdict on May 16 forced them to make a post-poll alliance to form the coalition government on May 23 and keep the BJP out of power.