Bengaluru: A day after the voting in the crucial bypolls to 15 Assembly seats, questions are being raised on who the low voter turnout in all Bengaluru constituencies and in the seats in other districts except Gokak, compared to the 2018 Assembly polls, will favour.
While a section of Congress leaders, considered rivals of Kuruba leader and former CM, Siddaramaiah feel the ruling BJP will comfortably win anywhere between eight to 10 seats and secure its position in the Assembly, the pro-Siddaramaiah camp is upbeat and asserts that low voter turnout has always helped the Congress win polls. This section is confident that the party can pull it off in eight to 10 seats upsetting the BJP's calculations.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior leader in the anti-Siddaramaiah camp, argued that the three to four percent dip in voter turnout was a result of reluctance of many Congress leaders to accept Siddaramaiah's choice of candidates in the bypolls. “Gokak where the Jarkiholi brothers are contesting against each other did see a one percent increase in voting compared to the 2018 Assembly polls but this was more because of the intensity of the fight between the brothers Ramesh and Lakhan Jarkiholi. Both the BJP and Congress camps fought tooth and nail to ensure the victory of their candidates in Gokak,” the source said and added that the same cannot be said about other 14 seats where the Congress pitted its candidates against the disqualified MLAs.
“The reason for a fall in voter turnout in many constituencies was the failure of the Siddaramaiah camp to garner support from all senior leaders in the party during the campaign. Most senior leaders were absent from the campaign scene and this contributed to the decline in voter turnout,” the source argued. The pro-Siddaramaiah camp is however upbeat about the low voter turnout and attributes it to people's apathy towards Operation Lotus launched by the BJP to bring down the previous coalition government and the negative manner in which the electorate has reacted to the move of the disqualified legislators to jump ship and join the BJP. "Reports on former JD(S) MLA Mr A.H. Vishwanath not allowed into villages in Hunsur during the campaign and boards saying Athani BJP candidate Mahesh Kumatalli was unwelcome in his own constituency, are a case in point. There are many such boycott incidents which did not get reported. At the grassroots, we received such complaints in all 15 constituencies. Such being the case, how do you expect the voters to come out and exercise their franchise? Therefore, voting percentage has fallen in many constituencies. Going by the information we have, the Congress will be able to secure a victory in no less than eight to ten seats upsetting all exit poll predictions,” the leader from pro-Siddaramaiah camp contended.
BJP hopes to win even Hosakote, Shivajinagar
Already bolstered by the exit polls that have given the ruling BJP in the state 10 plus seats in the byelections, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had more reason to smile on Friday after he received the booth voting percentages of all 15 Assembly constituencies on Friday, according to party sources.
Seeing the booth voting patterns, the BJP now believes it can easily win 10 to 11 seats in the bypolls, they say. The party is reportedly hoping to win even Hoskote and Shivajinagar, where it had a tough fight on its hands during the campaign.
While on the surface, BJP rebel, Sharath Bachegowda's appeal to the people to defeat an “outsider” to the party like disqualified legislator, M.T.B Nagaraj seemed to work at the start of the campaign, it did not get much of a response later as Mr. Yediyurappa himself monitored the election strategy and deputed his trusted loyalists to oversee the bypoll, say sources.
As for Shivajinagar, the party is said to be upbeat following the low voter turnout , which it attributes to Congress voters staying away from the booths thanks to the influence of former Congress MLA, Roshan Baig, who supported the BJP in the bypoll and persuaded the minority community to remain aloof from voting.
“BJP candidate Saravana is likely to sail through, thanks to Mr Baig's strategy which kept conventional Congress voters away from the booths in the constituency,” said sources close to the Chief Minister....