BENGALURU: As electioneering gathers steam, the ruling BJP is making all efforts to retain the Belagavi Lok Sabha and two Assembly segments. With just two weeks to go for the by-elections on April 17, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa will hit the campaign trail in Belagavi, Maski and Basavakalayan constituencies from next week, just in time when his Cabinet ministers, who have gone to Assembly poll-bound Kerala and Tamil Nadu to canvass for party candidates, return to join him.
Yediyurappa has already made a couple of visits to these constituencies and will be back there again next week. He is expected to hit the road for two days in each constituency to keep the saffron party’s record of winning bypolls at a high. Since Yediyurappa took charge as chief minister in 2019, the ruling party has won 14 out of 17 bypolls.
Shoring up its resources, the BJP has asked its leaders, who are out campaigning in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and West Bengal, to canvass for candidates in the bypolls, as winning all three seats is crucial for BJP. The CM, BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel, some ministers and leaders will campaign at these constituencies.
A senior BJP leader and MLC, N Ravikumar, told The New Sunday Express that ministers, including Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, B C Patil, ST Somashekar, Byrathi Basavaraju, Suresh Kumar, Aravind Limbavali and others, have either campaigned or campaigning in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal. They too will be in the state in time to root for the party candidates, as Kerala and Tamil Nadu will go to polls on April 6. They are expected to return by Sunday evening.
“We are asking ministers to campaign in four to five gram panchayaths or hoblis. Next week, BC Patil, Somashekar and Byrathi Basavaraju will be at Maski for three days,’’ BJP sources said. Dr Ashwath Narayan, who has been in Kerala for the last 20 days, will return to Bengaluru on Sunday and is expected to join the chief minister next week.
Most leaders are using helicopters for campaigning as they stay in Bengaluru, while the bypolls are happening in North Karnataka regions. Using air services makes it easy for them to reach these constituencies. Since the Election Commission has put a cap of Rs 27 lakh on poll-related expenditure, these leaders land at nearby districts and then go to respective constituencies by road.
Four withdraw papers to support Mangala
Four of the 8 candidates who withdrew their papers announced their support to BJP’s Mangala Angadi. Ashok Hanaji of Sarva Janata Party and Independents Hanumant Nagnur, Basavaraj Huddar and Suresh Paragan-navar are the four candidates. BJP MLA Anil Benake played a key role in this, sources said.