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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Campaigning ends for key bypolls to 15 K’taka seats

Voting for the 15 seats, where the BJP has fielded candidates who defected from the Congress and the JD(S), is on December 5 and the results will be declared on December 9. 219 candidates are in the fray.

karnataka Updated: Dec 04, 2019 00:12 IST
Venkatesha Babu
Venkatesha Babu
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy campaigns for Mahalaxmi Layout candidate Girish K Nashi in Bengaluru on Tuesday
JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy campaigns for Mahalaxmi Layout candidate Girish K Nashi in Bengaluru on Tuesday(PTI)
         

The three main political parties in Karnataka – the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) (JDS) – went all out on Tuesday, the last day of campaigning for the 15 assembly bypolls that could decide the fate of the state government.

Voting for the 15 seats, where the BJP has fielded candidates who defected from the Congress and the JD(S), is on December 5 and the results will be declared on December 9. 219 candidates are in the fray. The resignation of these 15 rebel candidates pulled down the Congress-JD(S) coalition government earlier this year.

Chief minister BS Yediyurappa campaigned in Hubballi and claimed there was a wave in favour of the BJP. ”The Congress and JD(S)’s work is not visible on the field. We will win all of them,” he said.

Congress leader Siddaramaiah countered him at a road show in Hunsur. “Don’t waste votes on JD(S) as they won’t win. If you want to defeat the BJP, vote for Congress.”

He also claimed that there was no possibility of the Congress again entering into an alliance with the JD(S) after the declaration of results. “ If such a situation arises, then the party high command will take a decision,” he added.

Referring to an earlier comment of Yediyurappa that as chief minister, he always had to walk a tight rope, Siddaramaiah said, “…he is old, maybe it is better if he steps down. Also they keep claiming that the treasury is empty. Then please step down, we will take charge. Not a cheque bounced under our regime and treasury was full.”

Congress leader in the legislative council – the upper house in the state - SR Patil claimed in Ranebennur that after December 9, the BJP government would fall and that a new Congress – JD(S) coalition government would once again take the reins of power in the state.

The December 5 bypolls are crucial because they may determine who rules the state. The assembly’s current strength is 207, of which the BJP holds 105 seats and is backed by one independent, the Congress has 66, the JD(S) 34 and one seat is held by an independent.

After the bypolls, the strength of the House will rise to 222 and the halfway mark will be 112. So, to hold on to power, the BJP needs to win six seats while the Opposition needs to win 11 seats to bring down the administration.

Bypolls to two seats is not being held because of pending legal cases. The total strength of the assembly is 224.

The Opposition is confident of winning, and has focussed on attacking the BJP candidates, who defected from the Congress and the JD(S) earlier this year.

Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy of the JDS drummed up support for his party’s candidate in Shivajinagar and exuded confidence that his party would win at least 6-7 seats. He, however, said that no decision had been taken on any alliance with any party. Another senior leader of the JD(S), Kona Reddy, said that after the December 9 results, his party will emerge as the ‘kingmaker.’

On the last day of campaigning, some candidates held roadshows, padyatras and last-minute corner meetings, while others chose to visit temples, parks and some even carried out homams (fire rituals) to ensure victory.

Political analyst Harish Ramaswamy said that the outcome of the bypolls would be crucial for all the three main political parties. “If the BJP wins anything less than 9-10 seats, Yediyurappa’s own continuation as CM may be in doubt. Unlike in the past, not a single major central leader has participated in canvassing even though the survival of the government is at stake. If the JD(S) doesn’t do well, the party might even break with some legislators looking for a better future. If the Congress doesn’t do well, all blame will be laid at Siddaramaiah’s feet by the many internal rivals. Karnataka is in for interesting political times one way or the other post the results,” he added.