While the BJP has the advantage of being the party in power, the Congress is relying on its candidate Ashok Managuli, whose father MC Managuli had won the 2018 assembly polls on a JD(S) ticket against the BJP’s Ramesh Bhusanur, who represented the constituency twice. The byelection to be held on October 30 is necessitated by the death of MC Managuli.
The JD(S), which had been the main political player in the constituency under the Managuli family for the past two decades, has been relegated to the sidelines though it may cut into the minority votes. Nazia Angadi is the JD(S) candidate. The result largely hinges on Angadi’s performance since a split in the minority votes will harm the Congress. The JD(S), led by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, has been aggressively campaigning with the sole aim to defeat the Congress as they are miffed that the grand old party took away Ashok Managuli. The decision to field a Muslim candidate is said to be revenge. “It is clearly a ploy by HD Kumaraswamy to divide the Muslim votes to defeat the Congress,” says Mallikarjun, a BJP functionary from Sindgi. Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda have been camping in the constituency for the past week.
Sensing the damage Angadi could inflict on October 30, the Congress has been appealing to Muslims not to vote for JD(S), dubbing it as the `B’ team of the BJP.
The Congress was upbeat from the beginning of the campaign because it was able to give a fight to the BJP in the constituency for the first time. Since 2004, the party has been in a distant third in the constituency while the fight was between the BJP and the JD(S). The arrival of Ashok Managuli into its fold has changed the fortunes of the opposition party.
While no party has contributed significantly to the development of this backward constituency which lacks even basic infrastructure, all three parties have been busy wooing voters on caste lines. Given that all communities have an almost equal share in the electorate of the constituency, the parties are busy organising caste-specific rallies and meetings. There are 50,000 Lingayats, 30,000 Kurubas, 30,000 Muslims, 35,000 SCs. Other backwards communities constitute around 40,000 votes. All parties have engaged their leaders to woo voters in their respective communities.
The ruling BJP has aggressively campaigned in the constituency by deploying around half a dozen ministers led by former deputy chief minister Laxman Savadi and over 20 legislators in the constituency for the past 10 days. Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai and his predecessor BS Yediyurappa have also campaigned in two rounds. The party has highlighted the performances of the state and the central governments, besides hoping to cash in on the good relations candidate Bhusanur has maintained with the voters over the years.
Former CM Siddaramaiah, state party president DK Shivakumar and opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge have campaigned in the segment. Siddaramaiah even had separate meetings with Kurubas and Muslims to ensure their votes don’t split.