BJP sets caste, cadre, candidate wheel in motion to win bypolls

Belagavi LS segment tough, but Maski Assembly seat most challenging, admits saffron party
BJP state unit vice-president BY Vijayendra campaigns for the party candidate ahead of the bypolls at Maski in Raichur district on Friday
BJP state unit vice-president BY Vijayendra campaigns for the party candidate ahead of the bypolls at Maski in Raichur district on Friday

BENGALURU: The bypolls to two Assembly constituencies and one Lok Sabha seat in the state are taking place on April 17, but the BJP had appointed in-charge leaders for them way back in February. While BJP agrees with the general notion that bypolls favour the party in power, the functionaries in charge are leaving nothing to chance to win all the three bypoll seats, especially Maski that is proving to be a challenge.

In the Belagavi Lok Sabha seat, the party is banking on Suresh Angadi’s popularity, and hopes the support, as well as sympathy, flows towards its candidate and Angadi’s wife Mangala. The party is sure of polling most of the Maratha votes too. “Lingayats will also vote for us en masse,” said N Ravikumar, General Secretary, BJP, despite the recent Panchamasali Lingayat agitation over quota. The Congress has fielded strongman Satish Jarkiholi, making the battle a tough one.

At the Basavakalyan Assembly seat, BJP is keen on splitting the Kuruba vote, while ensuring a large chunk of Koli community votes for it apart from the traditional Lingayat electorate. JDS fielding a Muslim candidate from the seat, the BJP believes, will dent the Congress’ attempt to gain sympathy votes by fielding former MLA late Narayana Rao’s wife Mallamma. 

At the Maski Assembly segment, BJP thinks, lies the true challenge. After leading the party to a spectacular victory in Sira, BJP state vice-president BY Vijayendra and General Secretary N Ravi Kumar will once again team up for Maski -- a seat where BJP has fielded a former Congress candidate, while Congress a former BJP candidate. 

Aware that it has lost some of its cadres along with Basanagouda Turvihal, who will contest from Congress, BJP is emulating its Sira-KR Pet approach of wooing women and first-time voters, apart from cashing in on Pratap Gouda Patil’s personal vote bank. “Patil had won last time from Congress and is now contesting from BJP. It just means we have the winning candidate. We will win all three seats without doubt,” N Ravi Kumar added. 

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