Karnataka which saw two assembly seats go to bypolls results saw BJP win from Sindagi seat and the opposition Congress snatch Hangal constituency from the ruling party. JD(S), which had previously won the Sindagi seat in 2018, faced a humiliating defeat.
The bypolls were necessitated due to the deaths of former minister and BJP MLA CM Udasi in Hangal and JD(S)’ MC Managuli in Sindagi.
Here’s a deeper look at the results and what the wins and defeats mean for the political parties.
The seat was seen as a prestige battle for Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai as it is situated in his home constituency Haveri. Congress managed to win by a comfortable margin of over 7,000 votes.
BS Yediyurappa rushed to the defence of Bommai following the defeat in Hangal. “We faced the by-polls under collective leadership. Hence, all the leaders should take responsibility for the poll results. Nobody can question the Chief Minister’s leadership on the basis of results of Hangal bypoll,” he said addressing the media in Bengaluru.
Congress candidate Shrinivas Mane, who had lost in the 2018 assembly polls emerged victorious with a margin of 7,373 votes. BJP’S Shivaraj Sajjnar got 80,117 votes and JD(S) candidate Niyaz Shaikh lost his deposit as he got only 927 votes.
What worked for Congress?
A huge chunk of credit goes to Congress candidate Shrinivas Mane. Despite losing the 2018 assembly polls to BJP’s CM Udasi, Mane was involved with people of the constituency. During the two waves of COVID-19, the then 85-year-old MLA was hardly seen in public due to his illness, but Mane was there to help the people. He helped people contracted with COVID. Haveri MP Shivakumar Udasi was also hardly seen in public during COVID wave. It had angered the people of the constituency and had soft-corner for Mane.
Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s AHINDA model seems to have done the trick for Congress in Hangal. The minority community and Dalits voted in large numbers for Mane. The 60,000 Lingayat votes too were divided which helped Congress win the seat.
Siddaramaiah had deployed two of his close associates and party MLAs Satish Jarkiholi and Krishna Byregowda in Hangal. Their main task was to unite sub sects of various communities and vote for Congress. The duo worked hard behind the scenes and were hardly seen during campaigns.
Congress had also managed to end the dissidence within the party. Former MLA Manohar Tahasildar was one of the ticket aspirants who was denied a ticket, but the state Congress leaders managed to take him into confidence and unitedly campaigned for the party candidate.
Why did BJP fail in Hangal?
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai gave it all he had as he campaigned in the constituency for eight days. He also played the emotion card claiming Sajjanar, the party’s candidate was born and will die here. But it did not strike a chord with the voters.
Bommai had campaigned extensively, but the same enthusiasm was missing in other party leaders. One theory is that a few party leaders silently worked against the party candidate to stop Bommai from becoming an undisputed leader in the party.
CM Udasi’s son and Haveri MP Shivakumar Udasi had demanded a ticket for himself or his wife but the party refused and gave the ticket to Shivaraj Sajjanar at the last minute. The Udasi family and their supporters were upset with the party, even though Udasi campaigned in a few places, his supporters stayed away from the campaigning which worked against the party.
During campaigning, the BJP leaders had targeted Siddaramaiah which is said to have upset backward class communities and voted against the party.
Despite JD(S) fielding a Muslim candidate, the strategy failed to work in favour of the BJP as the minority community stood behind the Congress.
BJP candidate Ramesh Bhusanur emerged victorious by a huge margin of 30,836 votes. Congress’ Ashok Managuli got 62,292 and JD(S) managed to get a mere 4,321 votes.
The people of the constituency have been voting either for the BJP or JD(S) since 2004 and Congress has been in the distant third since then. BJP candidate Ramesh Bhusanur had lost in the 2018 assembly elections with a narrow margin to JD(S)’ MC Managuli.
What worked for BJP?
Ministers CC Patil, V Somanna and Laxman Savadi were given the responsibility to ensure Panchamasali and Lingayat communities votes didn’t get divided and it worked well for the party. BS Yediyurappa and his son BY Vijayendra’s campaigns worked wonders.
BJP had named a minister for every panchayat in the constituency so that there were no loose ends.
People were angry with Ashok Managuli for ditching JD(S) and joining Congress and this, in turn, helped the BJP.
Pro-Hindu organisations had worked behind the scenes to ensure the votes were not divided.
JD(S) managed to take away over 4,000 votes which also helped the BJP to win with a huge margin.
Why did Congress fail in Sindagi?
Local Congress leaders were upset with the party for giving ticket to turncoat Ashok Managuli. The local leaders did not work with their full strength which was clearly visible in the final results.
Ashok Managuli was accused of not taking into confidence the local Congress leaders and only working with his own followers.
Congress had anticipated a split in Panchamasali votes which did not happen and the community voted for the BJP.
Despite the presence of heavyweights like Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar in the constituency, the party failed to make an impact due to infighting within the party.