Bengaluru/Mysuru/Belagavi: Fifteen Assembly constituencies in the state voted on Thursday in what is considered an acid test for the B.S. Yediyurappa government which will have to win at least seven of the 15 seats to ward off a threat from the opposition Congress and JD(S) which could join hands to topple the five-month-old BJP government if they have the required numbers in the Assembly.
Going by the exit poll predictions, the BJP is likely to romp home in a majority of the seats with some pollsters predicting that the party may win as many as 12 seats leaving just three to the Congress while the JD(S) which has reportedly transferred its votes to the Congress candidates in many constituencies as part of a silent understanding, may have to be content with just one seat. Counting of votes will be taken up this coming Monday, on December 9. According to the C-Voter survey, the only constituencies the Congress is likely to win are Shivajinagar, Kagwad and Hunsur while the rest of the seats would be bagged by the BJP which is expected to take its tally in the 222 member state Assembly from 105 to a comfortable 117.
If the exit polls prove to be accurate, the big loser this time could be former JD(S) president and former minister A.H. Vishwanath who could bite the dust in Hunsur, maybe because of a tacit understanding between the Congress and JD((S) to transfer the votes of Mr Deve Gowda's party to the Congress candidate H.P. Manjunath.
The big winner could be Rizwan Arshad of the Congress in Shivajinagar who may prevail. He was expected to find the going tough against the combined might of veteran leader Roshan Baig who was earlier in the Congress, and seasoned BJP leader Katta Subramanya Naidu, both of whom backed M. Saravana, BJP candidate.
Surprisingly, some exit polls have predicted defeat of former Speaker K.B. Koliwad in Ranebennur, considered a formidable candidate while others expect him to have a comfortable win. But what is of concern to the Congress and JD(S) is the fact that most exit polls have predicted on an average 8-12 seats for BJP and 3-6 seats for Congress which means CM Yediyurappa could have a comfortable tenure for the next three-and-a-half years. The guns are expected to be out in the Congress with senior leaders likely to target former CM Siddaramaiah who single handedly managed the bypoll campaign with his loyalists and may have to bear the blame if the party fares poorly at the hustings.
The former CM's 'vilification' campaign against the disqualified MLAs who contested as BJP candidates in 13 constituencies, wherein he accused them of 'selling' themselves for Rs 20- 25 crore offered by the BJP to topple the Congress- JD(S) coalition government, does not seem to have worked on the voters. Most of the Congress candidates were handpicked by Siddaramaiah, much to the consternation of other leaders and he may have a lot of explaining to do before the party high command if the exit polls prove right.
In fact, sources say many Congress leaders kept off the campaign and adopted a wait and watch policy to see how party candidates would fare in what is considered a litmus test of Siddaramaiah's pan-Karnataka popularity....