With stakes high, Bommai pitches camp
He is likely to be only the second chief minister to camp at a bypoll battleground. The first to do so was Devaraj Urs, who along with his cabinet, hunkered down in Chikkamagaluru in 1978.
Published: 27th October 2021 06:07 AM | Last Updated: 27th October 2021 06:07 AM | A+A A-
BENGALURU: For Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, the Hanagal and Sindagi bypolls are significant -- the first in his career as CM -- and important enough for him to pitch tent with a battery of ministers. While it is almost a given that the ruling party wins the bypoll sweepstakes, Bommai wants to ensure that the BJP does so decisively.
He is likely to be only the second chief minister to camp at a bypoll battleground. The first to do so was Devaraj Urs, who along with his cabinet, hunkered down in Chikkamagaluru in 1978. The stakes were high: Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was looking for political rebirth and had zeroed in on this hilly coffee belt as a safe constituency. A battle royale ensued as Janata Party leaders and stalwarts like George Fernandes campaigned hard, but finally, Indira won handsomely.
“It is a classic example of how the tide can turn if the chief minister and cabinet ministers campaign intensively,’’ said M Raghupathy, former minister of the Janata Parivar. Devaraj Urs had also camped for a bypoll in Raichur district for four days, again when it was an important battle.
Usually, chief ministers make brief visits -- Ramakrishna Hegde, J H Patel and SM Krishna would campaign for a day or two at most, while other CMs wouldn’t even peep in, but still win byelections. Even former CM BS Yediyurappa, who faced the highest number of bypolls necessitated by ‘Operation Kamala’, never stayed in any constituency like Bommai has.
While critics interpret it as a lack of confidence, his supporters are quick to defend him. BJP ideologue Dr Vaman Acharya said, “The chief minister is from Shiggaon, which is an adjoining constituency. Besides, it’s his first election, and probably the last bypoll for this government, so it is good that he leads from the front. These byelections are important to strengthen the party’s image, or it can shake the base. Numbers-wise, it will not affect the party but only give it a boost. It is no secret that bypolls favour the ruling party. I am confident that Bommai will lead the party in the next elections too.’’
Senior BJP leader and former chairman of the Upper House D H Shankara Murthy said there was nothing wrong in Bommai’s campaign strategy. Former CM Veerappa Moily preferred to read it as a lack of confidence: “It shows that Bommai is not confident. In my time as CM , there was a byelection in 1993 in Yelahanka, I was there for one or two days and we won that bypoll.”
Hanagal campaign trail heats up
Haveri: Slamming the grand old party, CM Basavaraj Bommai said the Congress was founded by the British, and thus follows British culture, including the Divide-and-Rule policy. Addressing a gathering in Hanagal, Bommai said the Congress has been dividing castes, communities and religions.
“They have been following Divide-and-Rule policy for decades. Therefore, people should support the BJP,” he said. Congress MLA BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan campaigned for the party’s candidate Srinivas Mane.