By-poll to decide fate of JDS’ future

Anil Urs Bengaluru | Updated on October 19, 2020

The by-elections to two Karnataka legislative assembly seats could turn out to be a big test for the future of HD Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal-Secular (JDS) party. For the other two parties, the Congress and the BJP, especially for chief minister BS Yediyurappa, the stakes are high but for different reasons.

The two legislative assembly constituencies going to polls on November 3 are RR Nagar in Bengaluru and Sira in Tumkur district. The RR Nagar seat fell vacant after N Munirathna resigned from the Congress to join BJP, while the Sira seat fell vacant following the death of JDS MLA Sathyanarayana.

If the BJP wins the seats, Yediyurappa can hope to get an extended lease of life as the Chief Minister and probably prove a point to the central leadership. He has entrusted the election management to his second son, BY Vijayendra, who is also the state BJP vice-president and who is apparently being groomed as a major leader in the party.

There have been reports about how the BJP leadership plans to replace Yediyurappa and the upcoming by-elections will prove whether he can continue to wield power in the State and in his party. A win here could also see his son’s elevation in the party.

“As Yediyurappa has managed to get a ticket for Munirathna, will have to see how the supporters of Tulasi Muniraju Gowda (a BJP leader, who was denied RR Nagar seat. He had contested twice and had lost by a narrow margin) would react over seat denial. The constituency has a large Vokkaliga population. Both Congress and JDS have fielded a Vokkaliga,” a BJP leader said.

In Sira, Vijayendra has been vigorously campaigning for BJP’s candidate CM Rajesh Gowda.

Politically relevant

While leaders are out to show their strength at the by-polls, JDS is crafting out a way to win these two by-elections to be politically relevant, especially in the old Mysore region where it is powerful.

Ever since Shivakumar became KPCC president, JDS feels threatened. Both HD Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy draw support from Vokkaligas in the Old Mysore region. Now JDS has devised a way out by fielding V Krishnamurthy in RR Nagar and deceased MLA Sathyanarayana’s wife Ammajamma in Sira.

Twin agenda

In the opposition Congress camp, elevation of Shivakumar as KPCC president has energised the party.

Shivakumar is exploiting the by-elections to suit his twin agenda — emerge as Vokkaliga leader and also boost party workers’ morale as both RR Nagar and Sira have sizable Vokkaliga population. Congress has fielded H Kusuma for RR Nagar and TB Jayachandra in Sira.

Published on October 19, 2020

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