Karnataka Bypolls: Prestige Battle for DK Shivakumar & Yeddi’s Son
Karnataka’s by-poll results won’t affect stability of BJP govt, but are crucial for DK Shivakumar & CM Yeddiyurappa,
For the stability of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka, the result of the 3 November bypolls is insignificant. But for the political future of some leaders in the state, these polls are crucial.
The newly elected Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar has been campaigning intensively in Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency, while Chief Minister Yediyurappa’s son Vijayendra has been made the unofficial in-charge of the BJP’s campaign in Sira constituency.
With both leaders eager to win the seats to prove their stature, these two bypolls are now a battle for prestige.
DK Shivakumar’s First Poll as President
DK Shivakumar has been camping in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, instead of appointing one of his senior leaders as the campaign in-charge. The new KPCC president carries with him the pressure to perform since his party faced a humiliating defeat in the bypolls held in December last year.
BJP had won 12 out of the 15 seats then, and most of the winning candidates were former disqualified Congress MLAs.
However, DK Shivakumar’s interest in Rajarajeshwari Nagar is bigger than his responsibility as state Congress chief. It affects his political ambitions too. After spending jail time in the alleged money laundering case, Shivakumar had projected himself as a prominent leader of the Vokkaliga community, the second-largest vote bank in the state. To support his ambitions to be Karnataka CM in the future, building his base within the Vokkaligas is crucial.
According to the estimates of the Congress party, Rajarajeshwari Nagar has around 72,000 Vokkaliga voters. The result of the bypoll here will be the first litmus test of his acceptance as a tall leader among the Vokkaligas.
Apart from that, this constituency comes under Bengaluru rural Lok Sabha constituency, where his brother DK Suresh is the MP. So, once again, purely for prestige, it is important for Shivakumar to ensure a victory here.
Image Building for Yediurappa’s Son
In Rajrajeshwari Nagar, the BJP is confident that their candidate Munirathna’s influence in the constituency will help him sail through the election. This former Congress MLA is one of the richest politicians in the state, and days before the polls, the Congress party has alleged that Munirathna freely distributed about 50,000 set-top boxes, each costing Rs 1,000, amongst voters in the constituency.
They also alleged that on 26 October, Munirathna openly stated that he had indeed distributed these set-top boxes to voters.
For the BJP, the focus is on Sira constituency. Although the party has appointed Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol as the leader in-charge of Sira, according to BJP sources, chief minister’s son Vijayendra is handling the campaign on the ground. For the Yediyurappa camp, which wants to project Vijayendra as the future face of the party in Karnataka, a victory in the constituency is essential.
During his campaign in Sira, Vijayendra has managed to create ripples with a large number of party workers turning up to meet him. The party has already credited Vijayendra for the BJP wresting power in KR Pet seat, which was a JD(S) stronghold, in the last bypoll. They hope another victory will elevate him as a leading strategist within the party in Karnataka.
While these two leaders are campaigning hard to improve their political standing, the JD(S) is expected to play a crucial role as well. Since both constituencies have a large Vokkaliga vote bank, which has traditionally voted for the JD(S), this regional party’s ability to stop the Vokkaliga vote bank from shifting to the Congress could have a defining influence on the results.
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