April 15, 2021 3:06:17 pm
The Belgaum Lok Sabha bypoll on April 17 has turned into a prestige battle for the BJP and Opposition Congress in Karnataka. Top leaders from both camps including Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddirappa and Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah have campaigned for the two candidates.
The bypoll was necessitated after Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi died due to Covid last year. His wife Mangala Angadi is contesting from the constituency against Congress’s Satish Jarkiholi, the sitting MLA of Yamkanmaradi.
While the BJP hopes to bank on sympathy factor, the Congress is playing the anti-incumbency card.
When campaigning for the seat began three weeks ago, Mangala, in her first public speech, called the late Belgaum MP a “martyr” among Covid-19 warriors. “Within 14 months of his tenure as a Union Minister, he was successful in getting new projects, including some unprecedented ones, for both Karnataka and Belgaum,” she had said.
However, CM Yediyurappa choosing to campaign for Mangala despite his poor health has raised eyebrows.
Congress candidate Satish says that this shows that the BJP is scared of losing.
“The CM has made repeated trips to Belagavi in the last two weeks alone and this shows his fear of his party candidate losing here,” he said.
But the working president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) won’t have it easy with him facing opposition from within his own family and party.
Satish’s brother and Congress rebel Lakhan Jarkiholi is campaigning against him.
Lakhan is at odds with the Karnataka Congress chief D K Shivkumar over the latter’s alleged involvement in the sex-for-job CD scandal. Lakhan’s brother Ramesh resigned as Cabinet minister after visuals from the purported sex CD were aired by TV channels.
Satish, however, is confident of a win by a big margin. At most public meetings, he maintains that “development is the key issue.”
Meanwhile, the Shiva Sena’s move to support Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) candidate Shubham Shelke is also expected to have some impact on the result. With many areas in the constituency home to a Marathi-speaking population, Sena hopes to play its part in the bypolls. Though Shelke could bag only 670 votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the MES is hoping for a better showing with Sena throwing its weight behind him.
While Mangala Suresh is the only female candidate in the fray, the constituency comprises 9.02 lakh female voters and 9.11 lakh male voters. 58 transgender voters have also been featured in the final voters’ list approved by the EC for the upcoming byelection.
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