Bengaluru: While the Yediyurappa government’s survival depends on the December 5 bypolls, the K R Pete byelection is of particular significance for the Janata Dal(S) too , as it had lost from Mandya district in the recent Lok Sabha poll despite its traditional hold on the Vokkaliga voters, who are dominant in the constituency.
The bypoll in K R Pete, an assembly constituency of Mandya district, has become necessary following the resignation of former JD(S) MLA Narayana Gowda, who shifted loyalty to the BJP along with 16 other Congress and JD(S) legislators in July to bring down the Kumaraswamy government.
Mr Gowda , who has represented the constituency since 2013 ,was elected to the Assembly for the second time in 2018 due to the internal squabbling in the Congress and the sway of the JD(S) over the Vokkaligas of Mandya district.
But whether he will succeed in getting the required number of votes now that he is contesting on a BJP ticket, is hard to say as the saffron party has never in the past received much support in the constituency.
But the BJP’s hopes are up as the JD(S) received a setback in the last Lok Sabha poll when Mandya voters defeated former Chief Minister, Kumaraswamy’s son, Nikhil and backed independent candidate and present MP, Sumalatha Ambareesh instead. The party is also depending on Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, who belongs to Bukanakere village in K R Pete taluk, to sway voters in its favour.
The JD(S), for its part, has chosen to be cautious following its rout in the LS poll and has ignored the demand from party workers to field Nikhil or any other member of the Gowda family for the bypoll and has instead given its ticket to a local candidate, Devaraj. The Congress, meanwhile, has fielded K B Chandrashekar, who won the 2008 elections from the constituency, but lost the next two polls from it. But all three candidates have their caste in common as they are all Vokkaligas, a fact that could lead to division of the community’s votes in the constituency. The kingmakers could then be the Kurubas, Dalits, backward classes and Lingayat communities as they could tilt the balance in favour of one or the other party.
The JD(S) is campaigning hard, sparing no occasion to slam Mr Narayana Gowda for “backstabbing” Mr Kumaraswamy and party supremo, H D Deve Gowda for the sake of power and appealing to the people to defeat him. The Congress has a problem on its hands as its candidate lacks support from among his own party leaders and is expecting former minister, D K Shivakumar to campaign for him to improve his chances in the constituency.
The outcome of the bypoll clearly rests on whether the people of K R Pete will vote differently from the Lok Sabha poll and back the “betrayed” Gowda family or help the lotus bloom in this sugar bowl of Karnataka.