Bypolls: Congress starts early preparations while JD(S) hints at not contesting


Dates for the byelections in Maski and Basavakalyan segments are yet to be announced

Smarting under the recent debacle in Sira and Rajarajeshwarinagar byelections, the Congress has started early preparations for the bypolls in Maski and Basavakalyan Assembly constituencies even as the Janata Dal (Secular) on Sunday hinted at not contesting the elections for which the dates are yet to be announced.

Bypoll in Maski has been necessitated by the resignation of Prathapgouda Patil, who was elected on the Congress ticket in 2018 but shifted loyalties to the BJP with others, resulting in the fall of 14-month-old H.D. Kumaraswamy-led JD(S)–Congress coalition in July 2019. The Basavakalyan legislator, B. Narayan Rao of the Congress, died recently.

The two bypolls — similar to the ones held in Sira and R.R. Nagar — will not have any consequence on the stability of the government but are expected to be contested fiercely by both the Congress, which is looking to retain both the seats, and the BJP, which wants to wrest them. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s son and BJP vice-president B.Y. Vijayendra, who has been credited to the victories in the byelections in K.R. Pet and Sira, where the BJP hardly had a presence, has already been working in Basavakalyan.

Meanwhile, Congress sources said the party would put up a firm fight in both the segments following the defeats in Sira and R.R. Nagar. Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president D.K. Shivakumar on Sunday started his tour of Kalyana Karnataka region, and he, along with Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah, is expected to shortlist the candidates before sending the names to Delhi for approval.

BJP’s Basangouda Turvihal, who lost to Mr. Patil by a slender margin of 213 votes in 2018, is expected to be join the Congress on Monday, and an announcement to this effect was made by Mr. Shivakumar. Party sources said Mr. Turvihal was likely to get the ticket. Sources said, “Congress leaders’ tour of the region even before the announcement of the election dates comes in the light of earlier defeats and they do not want to delay poll preparations.” Addressing a meeting of party workers and leaders at Hosapete in Ballari district on Sunday, Mr. Shivakumar urged the leaders to unite to secure wins for the Congress. “There is no misunderstanding between leaders in the Congress. Many JD(S) and BJP workers have met me to join the Congress. They will be taken into the party fold after holding discussions with district leaders,” he added. He also accused the Yediyurappa-led BJP government of meting out “discriminatory treatment” to constituencies represented by Congress legislators.

On Sunday, Mr. Kumaraswamy told presspersons here that contesting the bypolls was of no significance, indicating that the party would not field candidates. He said the BJP had changed the format of the byelections, hinting at misuse of official machinery and money power. He, however, said the party would take a call after deliberations. Incidentally, senior JD(S) leader and former Minister P.G.R. Sindhia had lost the 2018 election in Basavakalyan, which has a sizeable Maratha electors.

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