A win and a loss in Karnataka byelection might not have affected the prospects of BJP but it has put Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s leadership in question as the party has faced an embarrassing defeat in his home district Haveri.
Though Bhusanur Ramesh Balappa of BJP won against Ashok Malappa of Congress in Sindagi by a margin of 31,185 votes, the party’s Shivaraj Sajjanar lost to Congress candidate Srinivas Mane by a margin of 7,426 votes in Hanagal in Bommai’s home district Haveri.
A win for BJP in Hanagal was crucial for Bommai to emerge as the tallest leader in Karnataka, especially after BS Yediyurappa had vacated the chief minister’s chair.
Even when BJP was trailing after six rounds, Bommai, who was in Mysuru, said he was confident of winning the Hanagal constituency. But the results followed the trend. Srinivas Mane secured 87,300 votes while Sajjanar got 79,874.
This was also the first election BJP fought with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai as its face. Bommai, along with at least 20 BJP ministers and MLAs, camped in Hanagal for several days and campaigned which clearly showed that a win there was crucial for the chief minister.
Former Chief Minister BS Yedyiurappa and his son BY Vijayendra also campaigned for BJP’s Shivaraj Sajjanar – in a first-ever break from the Udasi family, after 43 years – as its candidate. Haveri BJP MP Shivakumar Udasi, son of C M Udasi, also joined the campaign to draw votes of the Udasi family loyalists to the party.
However, Hanagal, which houses a majority of Lingayats, seems to have not stood with BJP. Lingayat strongman BS Yedyiurappa stepping down from power may have played a role in the voting. Also, the BJP’s calculation that JD(S) candidate Niyaz Shaikh and two-time taluk president Nazeer Ahmad Savanur, who stood as an independent candidate, would split Muslim votes seems to have not materialised.
BJP may have erred in its candidate selection. Hanagal had never witnessed such a massive campaign by both BJP and Congress but BJP’s Haveri district president Shivaraj Sajjanar was a new face. Whereas, Srinivas Mane, who had lost against CM Udasi by 6,514 votes in the 2018 assembly elections, was already emerging as a leader and his work during the Covid-19 and lockdown time has reflected in the voting, says a local leader post results.
Commenting on the results, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president DK Shivakumar said that the bypoll results are an indicator of the trend ahead of the 2023 assembly polls. “This is an indicator that Congress will come to power in 2023. We have been able to win the Hanagal constituency, despite it being in Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s home district and a lot of ministers and MLAs campaigning for several days.”
“Though we have lost the Sindagi constituency, it has instilled confidence in us. In the 2018 assembly elections, we were in third place and now we have given a good competition and have secured second place,” he said.
In the 2018 assembly elections in Sindagi, Managuli Mallappa Channaveerappa of JD(S) had secured 70,685 votes, while Bhusanur Ramesh Ballappa of BJP got 61,560 votes and Sali Mallanna Ningappa of Congress got 22,818 votes, which amounted to 14.22 per cent.