The Karnataka by-elections, where the Congress won two seats and came within touching distance of a third, destroyed two widely held beliefs. First, that chief minister Siddaramaiah is vulnerable. And second, that BS Yeddyurappa and B Sriramulu are invincible on their home turf.
Although Yeddyurappa’s son BY Raghavendra won the Shikaripura seat vacated by him, the slender margin of 6,430 votes gave the BJP national vice-president a major fright and the Congress the chance to claim a moral victory. After all, Yeddyurappa had won the Shikaripura seat six times and romped home in the recent parliamentary elections by a massive margin of 3.62 lakh votes.
The Bellary Rural seat that Sriramulu vacated was in his pocket for three consecutive terms before this. He was so confident of winning it that he fielded his personal assistant Obalesh against all sane advice. Ironically, in the 2013 assembly polls, Sriramulu won this seat by a margin of 33,000 only to have his PA lose it by the same margin this time.
The results raise uncomfortable questions about theory that the rebellion of Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu had cost them the 2013 state polls. The theory sat well when the party won 17 out of 28 seats in the LS polls where the two leaders made a comeback to BJP.
The biggest winner, of course, is Siddaramaiah who had been struggling for form after being hit by a series of controversies and dissidence from his party colleagues.
“There is no opposition to me. There are no differences between me and (PCC president) G Parameshwara,” he declared when asked if the results will silence his critics within the party.