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‘Diwali gift’ for Congress may buoy party ahead of five-state polls

The win in Karnataka bypolls is also expected to silence critics of the coalition given that some of them had predicted that the Congress-JD(S) alliance would crumble under its own weight given inherent contradictions.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2018 22:38 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Karnataka bypolls,Karnataka,Bellary
Congress party supporters celebrate party candidate VS Ugrappa's win in the Bellary bypoll election.(PTI Photo)

The victory of the ruling Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition in four out of the five bypolls in Karnataka has buoyed the grand old party ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in five states.

The win is also expected to silence critics of the coalition given that some of them had predicted that the alliance would crumble under its own weight given inherent contradictions.

Political observers had claimed that the alliance will last only till the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The transfer of votes in the five constituencies could prompt a change in their thinking.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed to retain Shivamogga, the stronghold of former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, but lost another bastion, Ballari, by a huge margin.

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah termed the results a “Diwali gift” from the people of Karnataka to the ruling alliance. The outcome has also strengthened the perception that the BJP could be “convincingly defeated” if opposition parties join hands.

The first such indication came from the Lok Sabha by-elections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh in March when two rival parties, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), joined hands to register a stunning win over the BJP.

That unity is missing in poll-bound Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where the opposition parties are fighting separately. In Telangana, the Congress is in seat-sharing talks with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) to take on the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

For the Congress, this morale boosting win in Karnataka could not have come at a better time given that the assembly elections in five states are round the corner. Out of those, it is in direct fight with the ruling BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

While the Congress is trying to oust the TRS in Telangana, it is desperately seeking to retain power in Mizoram.

Political observers claimed that the results in Karnataka could impact the polls in Telangana more than any other state.

“Congress is clearly on upswing. Karnataka result is good news for Congress, especially in neighbouring state of Telangana. Ballari is on the border. The party has already regained a lot of ground there,” said Delhi-based political analyst N Bhaskara Rao.

He said the performance in Karnataka will not have much impact on other poll-bound states apart from boosting the morale of Congress workers and leaders in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

The Congress called it an indication of a change in the national mood.

“This is indicative of the changed mood in the country. The lead in the Lok Sabha bypolls is not something which is a one-off event. The Congress and the other progressive and pluralistic forces have vanquished the BJP over the last 10 bypolls,” said party spokesperson Manish Tewari.

First Published: Nov 06, 2018 22:38 IST