BANGALORE: Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah won the acid test in the Lok Sabha bypolls with both Congress candidates winning Bangalore Rural and Mandya seats by a huge margin in these constituencies, which were the JD(S) fiefdom.
The results declared on Saturday are a huge boost to the four-month old Congress party in Karnataka as they have the set the trend for the Lok Sabha elections eight months from now. Both the seats were won by political greenhorns, who have made their electoral debut with a leap to the parliament.
Kannada actor Ramya won from Mandya and senior Congress MLA DK Shiva Kumar’s brother DK Suresh Kumar from Bangalore Rural. Both the seats were held by the JD(S) with Bangalore Rural won by former CM H D Kumaraswamy in 2009. The bypolls were held following the resignation of Kumaraswamy and JD(S) N Cheluvaraswamy from Mandya after they got elected to the legislative assembly in May.
Ramya defeated JD(S) CS Puttaraju by a margin of 47,000 plus votes and Suresh Kumar trounced Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha by over a lakh votes.
The bypolls were crucial to both the Congress and JD(S). For the first time all opposition parties giving a go-by to their ideologies came together to put up a common candidate against the Congress in both constituencies. But the results revealed that voters have once again punished the JD(S) for teaming up with the BJP. The earlier instance was the 2008 assembly polls.
The results are a big blow to the Deve Gowda family, more so to senior Gowda, who at the age of 81 years, pounded the streets of Bangalore Rural and Mandya seeking votes for his daughter-in-law and shedding tears at public meetings. Anitha, who has been a reluctant candidate to politics, had still not come out of her defeat from Channaptna assembly polls in May, when she was fielded in this bypoll.
The 30-year-old actor Ramya, who was a last minute surprise candidate, in a way brought the feuding Congress leaders in Mandya to unite at least for the bypoll. Former CM S M Krishna and actor, housing minister MH Ambareesh, who don’t see eye to eye campaigned for Ramya, of course without sharing a common platform. Getting Ramya elected had become vital for the Mandya Congress unit, if it had to stake claim in appointments of chairpersons to the boards and corporations to be made shortly.
In Bangalore Rural, the victory has made Shiva Kumar, the second rung leader in the Vokkaliga community, strong to stake claim for a minister’s post in the cabinet. He has been kept out of the cabinet following his alleged involvement in illegal mining. There are four vacancies to be filled in the cabinet and Siddaramaiah is under tremendous pressure to complete the exercise.
The BJP and former CM BS Yeddyurappa’s KJP prospects after these bypolls are under a cloud. The outcome has also indicated that minorities in Channapatna and Ramanagaram (Kumaraswamy’s constituency) have rejected the JD(S) for its alliance with the BJP, while in Mandya, a beleaguered Ambareesh has got a breather with the victory.