BENGALURU: With intense campaigning by all three major political parties, and Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai leading the BJP from the front, the Hanagal and Sindagi bypolls witnessed a good voter turnout on Saturday. While Sindagi saw a turnout of 69.41 per cent, the turnout in Hanagal was 83.72. The enthusiasm of the electorate was high with voter turnout similar to that of the 2018 Assembly elections. The combined turnout, however, was an estimated 6% higher than the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, leading political pundits to speculate which party would benefit by this.
For Bommai, who is completing 100 days in office, the bypolls are a test of his leadership as the BJP high command has already declared him the party’s face for the 2023 Assembly elections. He not only has to retain Hanagal---which is in his home district Haveri--- but also win Sindagi from the JDS.
In the Congress camp, several top leaders, including KPCC president D K Shivakumar and Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah, campaigned aggressively hoping that the results may set a trend for the 2023 polls. In 2018, the high voter turnout of 84.4% had helped BJP candidate the late C M Udasi in Hanagal, who defeated current Congress candidate Srinivas V Mane by a margin of 6,514 votes.
The BJP has now fielded Shivaraj Sajjanar and the JDS Niyaz Sheikh. Given the close contest between the Congress and the BJP, the JDS’ performance may be a deciding factor. The Congress is worried as the JDS has fielded a candidate from the Minority community and this may result in a split of minority votes which could help the BJP.
The BJP is banking on aggressive campaigns by Bommai, former CM B S Yediyurappa and scores of other ministers, including Murugesh Nirani and J C Madhuswamy and MP Shivakumar Udasi. The Congress is banking on its candidate Srinivas V Mane’s rapport with the voters and his work during the Covid-19 pandemic. JDS leader and former CM HD Kumaraswamy too campaigned aggressively for Sheikh.
In Sindagi, Bommai, Yediyurappa and ministers Shashikala Jolle, V Somanna and Govind Karjol campaigned hard for BJP’s Ramesh Bhusanur, who had lost to M C Managuli in 2018 by 9,305 votes.
The Congress has fielded Ashok Managuli, the son of late M C Managuli, and the JDS has fielded Naziya Angadi, for whom former PM and party supremo HD Deve Gowda campaigned hard. The results of the bypolls will be out on November 2.