The upcoming bypolls to two Assembly seats in Karnataka may not have a bearing on party positions in the House — with the BJP holding a comfortable majority of 116 out of 224 seats — but they will be a matter of prestige for Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.
The November 3 bypolls at Sira in Tumkur district and Raja Rajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru come at a time when the Chief Minister faces allegations of corruption and interference in governance by members of his family.
The bypolls are also going to be significant for state Congress chief D K Shivakumar. Shivakumar too is being investigated by the CBI on charges of corruption and was arrested last year in a money laundering case. He has called the bypolls a referendum on the BJP government headed by Yediyurappa.
The Sira seat fell vacant after JD(S) MLA B Satyanarayana died. The R R Nagar seat fell vacant in July 2019 after Congress MLA Munirathna Naidu crossed over to the BJP.
While the Congress and BJP are trying hard to clinch a victory, the JD(S) too is a contender with a strong support base in these regions.
The BJP, which has traditionally not fared well in south Karnataka, is looking to prove that the party’s victory in the Krishnarajpet bypolls last year was not a flash in the pan but a sign of the party growing in strength.
Yediyurappa’s younger son B Y Vijayendra, who is at the centre of the controversy over the corruption allegations, has been tasked with ensuring the BJP’s victory in Sira.
For Yediyurappa, a victory in the bypolls, especially in Sira, will provide a shot at political redemption amid the corruption charges against him and family. It will also bolster his political credibility before the BJP’s central leadership, which is learnt to be mulling a change of leadership in Karnataka.
Vijayendra, who is supervising the BJP campaign, has claimed that the Opposition will be finished in Sira like it was finished in Krishnarajpet.
The BJP has fielded Dr Rajesh Gowda, a radiologist and political greenhorn, in Sira and the Congress has fielded veteran leader and former minister T B Jayachandra. The JDS has fielded Ammajamma, wife of former MLA Satyanarayana, in an attempt to tap a sympathy wave.
In RR Nagar, a stronghold of state Congress chief Shivakumar, the BJP has fielded new joinee and former Congress MLA Naidu, a film producer known for his philanthropic work.
The Congress has fielded 31-year-old H Kusuma, the daughter of a JDS leader and wife of former IAS officer D K Ravi.
“Victories in the by polls are crucial to Yediyurappa to prove his credentials to party leaders,” a Congress leader said.
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