Hubballi: Overcoming the Modi wave across the state and country, Congress party candidate Kusumavati Shivalli won the Kundgol Assembly bypoll riding the sympathy factor but her rival and BJP candidate S.I. Chikkanagoudar who put up a tough fight, ensured her victory margin was only 1,601 votes.
The byelection had attracted a lot of attention as a win would have added to the BJP numbers in the state Assembly and further bolstered its efforts to topple the coalition government. Of the total 1,56,106 votes polled, the Congress candidate secured 77,640 votes and the BJP nominee, 76,039 votes. Voters seem to have been impressed by the hard work of Kusumavati's late husband C.S. Shivall and the developmental works carried out by him. The rigorous campaigning by Congress leaders including Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar too helped in her victory as they made a last ditch effort to douse the rebellion by persuading other Congress ticket aspirants to withdraw from the fray. They also held a series of meetings to woo the Lingayat votebank which played a decisive role in her victory.
Kusumavati also banked on the Kuruba vote bank as she belongs to the community. The Congress had gained the support of JD(S) leader and former Kundgol legislator M.S. Akki who is a Lingayat and had secured more than 6000 votes in previous elections. Besides, the Muslims and OBCs favoured the Congress, said sources adding that the overwhelming support of women voters helped in Kusumavati's victory.
The BJP relied on the Lingayat vote bank as its candidate belongs to the community. The party suffered a defeat despite Lingayat strongman and state BJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa holding several meetings to gain the confidence of the community apart from convincing another ticket aspirant M.R. Patil to work for the party.