BENGALURU: Preparations for bypolls in the two key seats of Sira and Rajarajeshwari Nagar are under way in the BJP, Congress and JDS. While the Congress has zeroed-in on former minister TB Jayachandra as its candidate for Sira, it is struggling to find a contender for RR Nagar. The BJP, meanwhile, is almost set to give the ticket to N Muniratna, one of the 14 disqualified legislators who helped topple the JDS-Congress government and bring the BJP to power. The BJP and JDS are yet to finalise their candidates for Sira, previously held by the latter.
With the Congress and JDS struggling to find a suitable contender in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, the saffron party expects the election to be a breeze. The party, however, has one hitch — to convince its original local leadership to work with ‘Congress import’ Muniratna, especially when its earlier candidate Tulasi Muniratna Gowda nurses a personal grudge, given the ugly face-off between them since the 2018 assembly polls.
In Sira, the Congress is putting up a united front, with various factions ready to work together for Jayachandra’s victory. “We have a strong candidate in Sira and will shortlist one for Rajarajeshwari Nagar soon. Failures of the BJP government will help us win both seats,” said Saleem Ahmed, working president, KPCC. The only probable candidate for Congress in Rajarajeshwari Nagar is the party block president. For the JDS, too, finding a real contender is proving to be a challenge, though it has former candidate GH Ramachandra.
The BJP is banking on the convention of bypolls favouring the ruling party. “Sira has always voted either Congress or JDS, and neither have ensured drinking water projects in the constituency. We have already set up a Kadugolla Development Board — a long-standing demand of the community,” said N Ravi Kumar, MLC and BJP general secretary.
The saffron party has been steadily deepening its roots in Tumakuru. The JDS-Congress alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls compelled local leaders of both parties — rivals for decades — to work together, causing resentment which the BJP is cashing in on. Golla/Yadava and Vokkaliga communities play a vital role in Sira, and the BJP candidate is likely to be from the dominant Vokkaliga community, as the Gollas have got their development board.
While former candidates BK Manjunath and SR Gowda are hoping to contest, MLA Poornima Srinivas’ husband Srinivas, former general secretary of BJP OBC Morcha Thippeswamy from the Golla community, and S Shanmugappa are also lobbying for the ticket. Both JDS and BJP are said to be keen on approaching Dr CM Rajesh Gowda, son of former Chitradurga Lok Sabha MP C P Mudalagiriappa. Gowda is a close associate of Congress Legislature Party chief Siddaramaiah’s son and Varuna MLA Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah.
The JDS, after losing its MLA, is hoping to ride the sympathy wave. Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda was at the funeral of the departed leader, as was his grandson and Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna. The party is hoping to give the ticket to the deceased MLA’s wife Ammajamma or son Satyaprakash, if it fails to rope in Dr Rajesh Gowda.