BENGALURU: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s celebrations of completing ‘100 days’ in office this Deepavali could be a little hushed with the solid drubbing the BJP received at the Hanagal Assembly constituency in his home district of Haveri.
As a consolation, the saffron party sailed through in the Sindagi bypoll with party candidate Ramesh Bhusanur winning the seat by over 31,000 votes against his nearest rival Ashok Managuli of Congress.
Though Bommai and his army of ministers fought hard, the party lost the election at the Hanagal Assembly segment, which is sandwiched between the constituencies of four BJP heavyweights -- Bommai’s Shiggaon, former chief minister BS Yediyurappa’s Shikaripura, Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri’s Sirsi and minister BC Patil’s Hirekerur.
But the signals were quite apparent from the beginning as an internal survey done by the party had shown that the party could face an uphill task in the constituency. Soon after the survey, party national general secretary BL Santhosh had rushed to meet Yediyurappa, urging him to join the campaigning.
Will take defeat seriously: CM
The chief minister too was right at the battlefront, staying put in the constituency for over a week to ensure a victory. But it was not to be. Congress candidate Srinivas Mane won by a margin of 7,373 votes against Shivaraj Sajjanar of BJP.
While Mane secured 87,490 votes, Sajjanar got 80,117 votes. Mane coming from a numerically insignificant community and yet getting over 87,000 votes only added insult to the saffron party’s injury. Bommai, speaking in Mysuru on Tuesday, said, “The Hangal defeat will be taken seriously and we will work hard to transform this defeat into a victory.” In Sindagi, Ramesh Bhusanur of BJP secured his third victory in Assembly polls by garnering 93,865 votes and winning by a comfortable margin of 31,185 votes against Ashok Managuli, who polled 62,680 votes.
Ashok is the son of late MLA MC Managuli of JDS, who passed away necessitating the bypoll. Managuli and the Congress leadership could not match the BJP’s firepower in spite of playing the sympathy card. The Congress, however, defended its performance, pointing out that the party has increased its tally from just 22,000 to over 62,000.
The bypolls also put a big question mark on the political relevance of JDS, whose candidates lost miserably in both the polls. Niyaz Shaikh in Hanagal polled just 927 votes, although he campaigned for close to two-and-a-half months. In Sindagi, Naziya Angadi managed 4,353 votes, a big drop from 70,865 votes in 2018. These two could be the last big bypolls before the 2023 Assembly elections in Karnataka which are 16 months away.