Bengaluru: The BJP ‘debacle’ in Maharashtra, where it was unable to form a government with the Shiv Sena despite emerging as the largest party in the assembly polls, has infused fresh life into attempts to revive the now defunct Congress-JD(S) alliance with sources confiding that an internal understanding is being struck in some bypoll constituencies to defeat BJP candidates.
Consequently, the BJP which was confident of winning at least 10 seats of the 15 Assembly seats for which by-elections are being held, has now lowered its sights and is trying to win 8-10 seats.
However, the biggest problem for the Congress-JD(S) is the fact that the candidates in most constituencies have a long way to go in matching their formidable BJP opponents which is making them struggle during the campaign. Besides, the tactical understanding between the Congress-JD(S) will have a bearing only on six of the eight constituencies in the Old-Mysuru region, while it will be a direct fight between the BJP and Congress in the constituencies across North Karnataka where JD(S) has a miniscule presence.
For instance in Bengaluru, the JD(S) and Congress do not have strong enough candidates in KR Puram and Mahalakshmi Layout. Though former PM H.D. Deve Gowda is intent on defeating disqualified MLA and the BJP candidate Gopalaiah who had deserted his party, Gopalaiah has roped in local heavyweights like former JD(S) City President R.V. Harish as well as his rival candidate in previous elections N.L. Narendra Babu to back him.
In another Bengaluru constituency, Hosakote, the JD(S) is backing BJP rebel and Independent candidate Sharath Bache Gowda, while the Congress is indirectly helping him by fielding a Kuruba candidate who will cut into the vote base of BJP candidate M.T.B. Nagaraj, a Kuruba himself. In Hunsur, Chamundeshwari legislator G.T. Deve Gowda is keen on defeating the JD(S) candidate so that he can nurture the constituency for his son and is reportedly hobnobbing with both the Congress and BJP. However, the BJP candidate A.H. Vishwanath will have to face up to a tactical understanding between Congress strongman D.K. Shivakumar and JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy to ensure a Congress victory in Hunsur.
Shivakumar is also reportedly keen on JD(S) support to to help the Congress in KR Pete as well as Chikkaballapura. But as the campaign catches up, the JD(S) candidates in both constituencies – Devaraj and Radhakrishna – are faring better than the Congress candidates – Chandrashekhar and Anjinappa, said sources. The Congress candidates do not enjoy the financial clout of their JD(S) counterparts in these constituencies which matters a lot in the last three days of the campaign. Though the triangular fight in KR Pete may not help BJP candidate Narayana Gowda much, it could favour BJP candidate K. Sudhakar in Chikkaballapura, said sources who feel the Congress may consider giving up the fight in the last leg in Chikkaballapura in favour of the JD(S).
Meanwhile, Yeshwanthpur has emerged as a prestigious constituency, with many forces keen on defeating BJP candidate and disqualified MLA S.T. Somashekhar.
The tactical understanding for Yeshwanthpur between the Congress and JD(S) was struck even before the nominations started with the Congress deciding to field an insignificant candidate and throwing its weight behind the JD(S) candidate Javarai Gowda, who had lost by a margin of around 10,000 votes in the last election. The constituency is witnessing a keen contest with even Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa personally campaigning in the constituency.