BELAGAVI: The much-awaited results of the three bypolls to Belagavi Lok Sabha seat, Maski and Basavakalyan assembly segments, to be declared on Sunday, are not crucial only for the BJP but also Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, whose leadership has come under the scanner in recent times, with his own party leaders trying to unseat him.
With a neck-and-neck clash predicted between the BJP and Congress in all three constituencies, the results are expected to give a massive boost to the winning side, whether it is BJP or Congress. At a time when Yediyurappa and his party are struggling to cope with the raging pandemic in the state, many in BJP feel a victory in at least two seats, including Belagavi, will bolster the party’s position.
While BJP leaders are confident that people in all three constituencies, where a majority of voters are Lingayats, will rally behind Yediyurappa, the Congress leadership predicts it will win all three seats, claiming the ruling government has failed on all fronts. The BJP is so desperate to grab the three seats, that despite being down with severe Covid-19 symptoms, the Chief Minister held three whirlwind campaigns in Belagavi, and held rallies back to back.
Belagavi parliamentary constituency has been a stronghold of the BJP, with late Suresh Angadi, former Union Minister of State for Railways, winning the seat four times, starting from 2004. In an attempt to retain the seat with the sympathy factor, the BJP fielded his wife Mangala Angadi. On the other side, the Congress is desperate to regain Belagavi, which was once its stronghold. The party fielded warhorse Satish Jarkiholi against the inexperienced Mangala, and hopes to get back its lost bastion.
Senior Congress leader BL Shankar said, “The outcome of the three bypolls is important for the party as it will help send across a positive message ahead of elections to the ZP, TP and Legislative Council.’’ Satish Jarkiholi said the BJP had failed to deliver on all fronts, and people would vote for the Congress. In the last assembly election in Maski, the BJP lost to Congress by merely 213 votes, and the bypoll is expected to produce another thrilling result.
After Pratapgouda Patil, who was Congress candidate last time, switched to BJP via Operation Lotus, and Basangouda Turvihal quit BJP and joined the Congress, the clash has become even more interesting. Both parties had launched a high-decibel campaign in Maski. KPCC Working President Eshwar Khandre said, “The people are disappointed with the government’s performance on all fronts. The Yediyurappa government neglected the Kalyan Karnataka region and people will teach them a lesson.
We will win all three seats and the results will be a morale booster for the party cadre.’’ Basavakalyan is also expected to throw up an interesting result, with the Congress fielding Mala Narayan Rao, wife of late MLA Narayan Rao, whose death necessitated the bypoll. The BJP fielded Sharanu Salgar, ignoring former MLA Mallikarjun Khuba, who was a strong aspirant. The BJP could not stop Khuba from entering the fray as a party rebel, but the Yediyurappa camp has worked hard to ensure the party votes don’t split.