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In Anitha Kumaraswamy’s victory, Congress finds reasons to be alarmed

Anitha was up against L Chandrashekar of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who had switched over from the Congress in October after the party decided to let the JD(S) contest the seat as part of its seat sharing arrangement.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2018 23:26 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Congress,BJP,Kumaraswamy
JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy, wife and Ramanagara MLA, Anita Kumaraswamy and son Nikhil in Ramanagara in Karnataka. (PTI)

The victory of chief minister HD Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha, the Janata Dal (Secular) candidate, in Ramanagara might have been a foregone conclusion, but it still provided reasons for the Congress to be alarmed, after she bettered her husband’s tally in the May assembly polls. The seat had fallen vacant after Kumaraswamy chose to represent Channapatna, the second seat he contested in May, in the assembly.

Anitha was up against L Chandrashekar of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who had switched over from the Congress in October after the party decided to let the JD(S) contest the seat as part of its seat sharing arrangement.

The election turned into major embarrassment for the BJP after Chandrashekar expressed his desire to withdraw from the contest two days before voting, which was held on Saturday, and said he wished to go back to the Congress.

It was the Congress, though, that appeared to have lost even in victory. Differences between the party’s leaders and workers had gone public as soon as it chose to ally with the JD(S), its bitter rival in the southern districts, after the state assembly elections in May threw up a hung verdict. Those differences deepened when the party decided not to field a candidate in Ramanagara.

In May, the Congress had polled second, with its candidate Iqbal Hussain getting 69,990 votes. Kumaraswamy won the election by a margin of 22,636 votes. Some local leaders of the Congress, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisal, are now worried that both the BJP and JD(S) have benefitted from a transfer of these votes.

In the JD(S) win in Mandya, too, there are signs to worry about, one Congress leader said. In Mandya, the leader said, the BJP had polled over 200,000 votes for the first time. Siddaramaiah, the BJP’s candidate, ended up with a tally of 244,000 votes. “This is clearly the result of Congress workers and voters who are unhappy with the decision to ally with our local rivals,” the leader said. The rivalry between the two parties was heightened after the May assembly elections, when the JD(S) had swept Mandya, and much of southern Karnataka.

First Published: Nov 06, 2018 23:02 IST