The ruling BJP in Karnataka won both the bypolls in Sira and Rajarajeshwari Nagar (RR Nagar) Assembly constituencies on Tuesday. In RR Nagar, BJP candidate Munirathna won by a margin of 57,672 votes, defeating Congress candidate H Kusuma and JD-S candidate V Krishnamurthy. In Sira, BJP candidate Dr B.M. Rajesh Gowda won by a margin of 13,000 votes.
Gowda won the election against the six-time legislator and Congress candidate T.B. Jayachandra, who ended up getting 61,573 votes. The Janata Dal-Secular nominee Ammajamma was at a distant third, polling 35,982 votes.
Munirathna’s resignation from the Congress party last year necessitated the bypoll. Munirathna, who was congress MLA, a wealthy civil contractor and film producer, crossed over to the BJP to help the party come to power. This is the third straight victory for Munirathna since 2013 in the constituency and his first as the BJP candidate.
The R R Nagar bypoll was supposed to be held in December 2019 but got delayed on account of a case of electoral fraud filed against Munirathna by his BJP rival from the 2018 polls. He defeated the Congress nominee H Kusuma.
Earliest trends on Tuesday showed Munirathna leading with a huge margin. At the end of the 25th round of counting, Munirathna had polled 1,25,734 against 67,798 votes by Kusuma. The JD-S nominee V Krishnamurthy was trailing with 10,251 votes in third place.
The Sira seat fell vacant after the Janata Dal-Secular candidate B Satyaranarayana, an advocate who won the 2018 polls, succumbed to chronic illness on August 4. BJP candidate Dr. B.M. Rajesh Gowda contested against veteran six-time MLA and former minister T B Jayachandra, 71, and JD-S candidate Ammajamma Satyanarayana, 61, the widow of the former JDS MLA B Satyanarayana.
Dr C M Rajesh Gowda, 47, a new entrant to the party, is a radiologist by profession and the son of a former Congress MP. On Tuesday, Gowda polled 74,522 votes at the end of 24 rounds of counting and T.B. Jayachandra ended up polling 61,573 votes. The Janata Dal-Secular nominee Ammajamma was at a distant third, polling 35,982 votes.
The bypoll results will not affect the stability of the government but these elections turned out to be a prestige issue for individual leaders from BJP, Congress and JDS. This was the first election after DK Shivakumar took over as the Karnataka Congress President, where both the constituencies have a sizable population of Vokkaliga community that Shivakumar belongs to.
Speaking to reporters after elections, DK Shivakumar accepted the defeat and said, “The people have not voted for us as we expected. The Congress isn’t in a position to question people, because we believe in democracy, I take responsibility for this as the president of Karnataka Congress,” he said.
Meanwhile, BJP fought this bypoll to enter into Vokkaliga heartland. The saffron party, which wanted to grow in the old Mysuru region of the state, got its second victory for the party in the region after it won KR Pete in Mandya in by-elections held last December.
BJP Party leaders credit Yediyurappa’s son B Y Vijayendra for the victory in Sira. Vijayendra had camped in the constituency in the run-up to the polls and vowed to win the seat. Earlier, Vijayendra was also given credit for winning the KR Pete By poll in Mandya which is in the Vokkaliga belt of the state.
For JD(S), retaining Sira was important to continue its hold in the region, but the regional party is seeing a series of setbacks after the 2018 elections.
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