Political parties sweat it out on last day of Karnataka bypoll campaign
The bypolls have been billed as a ‘mini-assembly’ poll as the outcome could decide the fate of the B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government. The results will be declared on December 9. A total of 219 candidates are in the fray in the 15 seats.Updated: Dec 03, 2019 21:34 IST
All the three main political parties in Karnataka – the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) – went all out to woo voters on Tuesday, the last day of campaigning for the December 5 bypolls for 15 assembly seats.
The bypolls have been billed as a ‘mini-assembly’ poll as the outcome could decide the fate of the B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government. The results will be declared on December 9. A total of 219 candidates are in the fray in the 15 seats.
Yediyurappa claimed that there was a wave in favour of the BJP across all the constituencies. “Congress and JD(S) work is not visible on the field. We will win all of them. There is desire for a stable government under my leadership in the state and we will deliver the same,” he told reporters in Hubballi.
Congress Legislature Party leader and former CM, Siddaramaiah holding forth at a road show in Hunsur, said “Don’t waste votes on JD(S) as they won’t win. If you want to defeat BJP, vote for Congress.” He also claimed that there was no possibility of Congress again entering into an alliance with JD(S) post the declaration of result but added a caveat saying, “at least for now. If such a situation arises then the party high command will take a decision.”
Referring to an earlier comment of Yediyurappa that he always had to do a ‘tight-rope act’ Siddaramaiah sarcastically remarked, “…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.”
Siddaramaiah’s statement ruling out an alliance with the JD (S) was in contrast to Congress party’s leader in the legislative council S R Patil who had 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 reins of power in the state. The Congress–JD(S) coalition government which had taken charge in May 2018, fell in July this year.
H D Kumaraswamy the JD(S) leader while drumming up support for his party’s candidate in Shivajinagar constituency of Bengaluru exuded confidence that his party would win at least 6-7 seats. He, however, said that no decision has been taken on any alliance with any party. Another senior leader of JD(S) Kona Reddy said that after the results, his party would emerge as ‘kingmakers.’
While some of the candidates held roadshows, padyatras, last minute corner meetings, others chose to visit temples, parks and some even carried out homams (fire rituals) to ensure victory. BJP’s Yeshwantpur candidate S T Somashekar conducted a homam to ensure his victory in the upcoming polls.
Political analyst Prof Harish Ramaswamy said that the outcome of the bypolls would be crucial for all the three main political parties in the state. “If the BJP wins anything less than 9-10 seats, Yediyurappa’s own continuation as CM is 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.”
In the 224 member assembly, two seats are vacant due to legal disputes. For a simple majority, a government needs to have the support of at least 112 members in an effective 222-member House. The BJP currently has 105 members and also support of an independent candidate. Congress has 66 MLAs while JD(S) has 34. There is also one unaligned BSP member in the house. BJP needs to win at least six of the 15 seats to ensure survival of its government.