In view of the change in guard, the byelection is crucial for new Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.

 

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is fighting crucial bypolls in Karnataka and had stationed the whole rank and file of the party in the two Assembly seats of Hangal and Sindagi which would go for polls on 30 October. The bypolls became significant for the party in view of the change in guard in the southern state. The bypolls may not impact the arithmetic of the government as the BJP has a comfortable majority in the Karnataka Assembly. The saffron party had the support of 121 members in the House having the reduced strength of 222. Karnataka is the BJP’s gateway to the south as among the five southern states, it has been able to form a government only here on its own.

The importance of the bypolls is such that Chief Minister Bommai, his whole cabinet and state unit’s top functionaries have been campaigning since the last 15 days. The Congress has also stationed its top state leadership, including the leader of Opposition and the former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and state Congress boss D.K. Shivakumar.

Experts who are observing the Karnataka politics believe that the by-elections will affect the organizational politics within the BJP as a win in the elections would help Basavaraj Bommai to emerge as a strong leader, while a loss will send disturbing signals to the high command. Bangalore-based political analyst and senior commentator M.S.K. Patil said: “The importance of the byelections is such that the CM is making an emotional appeal in each of his public meetings. The state government is stationed in Hangal and Sindagi. A victory would strengthen the CM, while a loss may impact his future prospects as the BJP high command will watch the bypolls closely. We also have to look at how the former CM B.S. Yadiyurappa works, as both Hangal and Sindagi have sizable Lingayat population, roughly 25%. Despite being out of office, he enjoys considerable influence in the party. The Congress is also very active in the bypolls; they are sensing an opportunity to corner the BJP and build momentum for the future elections.”

BJP Member of Legislative Assembly and senior leader P. Rajeev said: “BJP fights each election with all its energy irrespective of the significance of that election. We are confident that the voters of Hangal and Sindagi will support us. We have appointed a dozen in-charges in each of the two Assembly seats. The presence of the whole rank and file of the party signifies that our leaders care for each segment of the state. PM Modi’s name and works will act as an added advantage for us.”

Congress also claims that it is winning both seats and will unseat the BJP in the next elections.

Senior Congress leader and Member of Legislative Assembly Lakshmi Hebbalkar, who is campaigning extensively, said: “We are confident of winning both the seats. The voters of both the seats are aware about the draconian policies of the central government. They have seen how the farm laws, unemployment and inflation are impacting their lives; so they will defeat the BJP on both the seats. We are just the catalyst force. We are fighting the by-elections under the collective leadership of our leader of Opposition and former CM Siddaramaiah and the party president D.K. Shivakumar and the guidance of the high command.”