The Karnataka bypolls took place on Saturday
Bengaluru: Karnataka is waiting today for the results of a string of by-elections – considered bellwether for next year's national polls in the state. Results for the Lok Sabha seats, Shivamogga, Ballari and Mandya, and assembly constituencies of Jamkhandi and Ramanagara, are crucial for the ruling Congress-JD(S) alliance as well as the BJP. Of the three parliamentary seats, the BJP held two, the JD(S) one. A victory will provide a psychological advantage to the BJP, which is still smarting over the swift, unexpected alliance between the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy after the assembly elections in May that kept it out of power despite being the single largest party. Here are top 10 points on the by-elections:
- Of the three parliamentary constituencies, the BJP holds the prestigious Shivamogga – stronghold of its state party chief BS Yeddyurappa – and Ballari, seen as the backyard of mining baron Reddy brothers. Mandya has been the JD(S) stronghold.
- A good show would be morale booster for the ruling Congress- JD(S) alliance in the state, which has been facing BJP jibes about its longevity. A victory will cement their tie, showing they can complement each other in a pre-poll alliance. In 2014, the BJP had won 17 of Karnataka's 23 parliamentary seats. The Congress won 9 and HD Kumaraswamy's Janata Dal Secular 2 seats. The pattern held in the assembly elections in May, where the BJP won 104 of the 224 seats.
- The contest in Shivamogga is attracting much attention, with sons of three chief ministers battling for the seat that fell vacant after BS Yeddyurappa resigned to contest the assembly elections. Retaining Shivamogga is a matter of pride for BJP. The ruling alliance is banking on the fact that their combined vote share in the eight assembly segments in Shivamogga was more than that of the BJP in the last assembly elections.
- In Shivamogga, the BJP fielded Mr Yeddyurappa's son BY Raghavendra, who won the seat in 2009. The JD(S) candidate is Madhu Bangarappa, son of former chief minister S Bangarappa. Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), a BJP ally in Bihar, is also in fray, fielding Mahima Patel, son of JH Patel. All three former chief ministers represented the parliamentary constituency in the past.
- The ruling alliance is trying to wrest the mine-rich North Karnataka constituency of Ballari from the BJP, which has fielded J Shantha, sister of party strongman B Sriramulu. The seat fell vacant after Mr Sriramulu resigned to contest the assembly elections. The Congress fancies its chances as in this year's assembly elections, it won six of the eight assembly segments that fall under the parliamentary seat.
- The fight in Ballary will also be a test for Congress's DK Shivakumar, who played a key role in forming the alliance with HD Kumaraswamy. Mr Shivakumar has overseen the campaign for the Congress candidate.
- The BJP has pulled all stops to wrest Mandya from the JD(S), which was vacated by the party's CS Puttaraju after he was elected to the assembly from the Melkote constituency. But it might not be an easy task as the 60 to 70 per cent of the electorate are Vokkaligas, who have traditionally supported former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. The JD(S) has fielded LR Shivarame Gowda against BJP candidate Siddaramaiah, a newcomer, in the seat.
- In Ramanagara assembly constituency, JD(S) nominee Anitha Kumaraswamy, the wife of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, has been given a virtual walkover, with BJP candidate L Chandrashekhar quitting the party to join the Congress two days before polling. The seat was vacated as Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, who won from both the Channapatna and Ramanagara seats, opted to represent the former in the assembly and resigned from the latter.
- In the Jamakhandi assembly seat, the Congress fielded Anand Nyamagouda, son of its sitting candidate Siddu Nyamagouda, who died in a road accident in May. The BJP hopes to win the seat in the absence of a rebel candidate. In the last election, local BJP leader Sangamesh Nirani had contested as an independent and had managed to win 15.96% of the votes
- The terms for the Ballari, Shivamogga and Mandya seats will be extremely short with the Lok Sabha elections due early next year.